Hosts France will play three-time winners New Zealand in the standout match of the 2023 Rugby World Cup pool phase, after the draw was once made in Paris on Monday. The countries have met each and every other seven times in World Cups, including in the 1987 and 2011 finals with the All Blacks winning on both occasions. Italy and two qualifiers, one from the Americas and another from Africa, make up Pool A. Holders South Africa will face Ireland and 2003 champions England take on Japan, who hosted the final World Cup in 2019, and Argentina, who whip New Zealand for the first time in their history in November.
“It’s exciting, actually, to realize who your RWC pool opponents will be for the 2023 tournament in France,” Springboks captain Siya Kolisi said.
“For now, we need to turn our attention to the massive challenge the British and Irish Lions will bring next year – there is enormous anticipation, both at home and in the United Kingdom, for what promises to be another memorable Lions series in South Africa,” he added.
The Springboks will also go up against Scotland and a side from Asia/Pacific and a further European nation in Pool B.
Wales, who missing to England in the 2019 semi-finals, are in Pool C with two-time Webb Ellis trophy holders Australia in addition to Fiji, a European team and the winner of the last qualifying tournament.
A qualifier each and every from Oceania and the Americas rounds out a competitive-looking Pool D with England, Japan and Argentina.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, seeding levels for the tournament draw were based on the world rankings on January 1, 2020 instead of after the autumn internationals as originally intended.
Organisers also moved the event forward in an effort to start selling tickets in March next year, before ticket sales for the 2024 Paris Olympics begin in 2022.
The dozen countries from the draw will be joined by eight qualifiers, with the last lineup known by November 22.
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