Rugby draw makes Argentina rematch likely


Ireland are likely to be in the same pool as Australia and Argentina under the Rugby World Cup draw that was announced today.

Hosts Australia were drawn in Group A with Argentina, and England were drawn in Group C with South Africa.

Ireland, who have to qualify for the 2003 showpiece, are favourites to fill the tournament's ninth seeding- Europe 1. That would secure a place in Group A at the finals, alongside Australia and Argentina.

Argentina condemned Ireland to the qualifying programme later this year, courtesy of knocking them out after a quarter-final play-off clash in Lens, France, three years ago.

Presuming Ireland emerge from the qualifying round and take European top spot, then other group opponents will be the leading African qualifier - Zimbabwe, Namibia, Morocca, Tunisia, Ivory Coast or Madagascar - and fourth-ranked European nation, possibly Spain.

Group A would see Ireland playing at four different venues -Gosford, Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne - between October 11th and November 2nd. A quarter-final place would probably mean a showdown with Six Nations rivals France or Scotland.

If Ireland fail to qualify as European top dogs, they could find themselves in the same group as New Zealand or England and South Africa.

France were drawn in Pool B alongside Scotland and three qualifiers.

Pool AAustralia, Argentina, Europe 1, Europe 4, Africa 1
Pool BFrance, Scotland, Oceania 1, Asia 1, Repechage 1
Pool CSouth Africa, England, Oceania 2, America 2, Europe 3
Pool DNew Zealand, Wales, America 1, Europe 2, Repechage 2