Perhaps the 9th ranking was all part of Frank Hadden’s master plan.
Canada (Americas 1)
Asia 1 (Japan?)
Europe 1 (Romania?)
Play Off Winner (your guess is as good as mine)
Europe 2 (Portugal, Spain, Russia, Georgia?)
Americas 2 (USA?)
Samoa (Oceania 1)
Africa 1 (Namibia?)
No Southern Hemisphere biggie. Argentina, who we have recently beaten. And our cousins from south of the border – currently in disarray and against whom our form is not necessarily an indicator of result – so if we played the World Cup today I’d be quite happy. However it’s still three years away and a lot can (and will) change. At least we didn’t get New Zealand in our group again. Who’s going to upset the home team’s apple cart? Oh look, they got France again…same again, or situations reversed with the plucky home team upsetting the rampant favourites? Seems unlikely given NZ are filling the role of both. Once again Ireland are in a group of if not death then mild trauma with Italy and the Aussies. Italy have recently pushed the Aussies close and could be the Argentina of this tournament, if they continue to mature.
Talk has already begun as to how the draw has been kind to England (which it has). It has also been kind to us, and to Argentina. A lot of people on message boards everywhere are already assuming that this group will go according to the seedings with Argentina coming out on top, and England second. My apologies, but I would say this is one of the few groups that could go in any direction and Argentina on current form would not be favourites against Scotland or England. Scotland are the 3rd seed team England did not want. Because in a Scotland vs England match, even on the other side of the planet and even if England were by that point the top team in the world, anything can happen.
See you in Dunedin? I’ll be there.
UPDATE: updated 13/07/09 as Canada have qualified