Scottish Rugby News and Opinion


Scotland 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool Announced

Rugby World Cup
The William Webb Ellis Trophy - pic © World Rugby/Getty Images

Here is the full draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup:

Pool A

Europe 1 (could be Romania or even Germany)
Playoff-winner (Oceania 3 or Europe 2 which could be Tonga or Germany/Spain)

This could actually be a pool of near-death as a lot of teams could actually end up about the same level if Ireland drop their game a bit and Japan and, say, Romania raise theirs (which they will). With Georgia already qualified in Pool D, whoever comes through is likely to be making a big step up, there’s really nothing to fear though for our lads. They should feel they can top this group, although a lot will depend on squad depth. Ireland will of course feel the same and there’s a good bet that runner-up gets you a Quarter Final with the All Blacks. By 2019 Japan won’t be taken for granted, on home turf they’ll want to turn both us and Ireland over and get out of the group stages, especially as they will likely have the opening game. Which brings the prospect of an upset with the world watching…

Pool B

New Zealand
South Africa
Africa 1 (Namibia or Kenya most likely)
Repechage Winner

Two heavyweights but not much that will trouble either lurking below, unless Conor O’Shea works miracles and beats South Africa again. Both big names will probably go through to face the runner-up/winner of Pool A.

Pool C

Americas 1 (Canada?)
Oceania 2 (Fiji?)

Depending on who comes out as Oceania 2 this could end up as a fairly sticky group. Certainly it’s the toughest to pick a top 2 from and there will be 3 physical encounters. Plus, historical grudges.

Pool D

Oceania 1 (Samoa?)
Americas 2 (USA/Uruguay?)

Adding say Samoa and Canada into this group could make it interesting but it’s tough to see Georgia doing enough to stop Wales and Australia getting through. 2 years is a long time though…

Before the draw was held, a meeting of the World Rugby Council voted unanimously to increase Regulation 8 residency periods from 3 years to 5 years, or as they put it to ensure “that a player has a genuine, close, credible and established link with the nation of representation”.

The key amendments agreed upon, including that one, are:

  • The 36-month residency requirement is increased to 60 months with effect from 31 December, 2020 (unanimously approved)
  • The addition of a residency criteria which permits players who have 10 years of cumulative residency to be eligible (effective May 10, 2017) (unanimously approved)
  • Unions may no longer nominate their U20s team as their next senior national representative team (effective 1 January, 2018) (majority)
  • Sevens players will only be captured for the purposes of Regulation 8 where the player has represented either of (i) the senior national representative sevens team of a union where the player has reached the age of 20 on or before the date of participation; or (ii) the national representative sevens team of a union in the Olympic Games or Rugby World Cup Sevens, having reached the age of majority on or before the date of participation in such tournament (effective 1 July, 2017) (majority)

That means any 3 year “projects” that begin in the next 6 or 7 months would still qualify in time for the rule change (but maybe not the World Cup), and all our existing players will remain Scottish qualified.

Oh, and Shingler would have been ours. OURS!

71 Responses

  1. We’ve probably got the second toughest group drawing Japan and progression is going to come down to that one game. On the plus side there’s no guarantee Jospeh will have Japan as well drilled as Jones and co. did. On the downside home advantage and probably a more kind schedule is going to go a long way to redressing and advantage we have. Let’s hope we continue out upwards trajectory.

  2. Good draw for us. Yes, Japan will be tough but we’re not just playing for 2nd as we would be if we had NZ as top seed. We can beat Ireland and top that group I reckon.
    By my reckoning the other two sides are ‘likely’ to be Romania and Tonga, as it stands.

  3. Would have settled with this draw although obvious hurdle in Japan but equally a chance we can to top the group. I expect Rennie to bring some SH players and so rightly or wrongly they will be SQ in the current 3 year time frame. Interesting news that Toby Flood is being released by Toulouse – what are the chances of a reunion with Cockerill!!

    1. Any players who come now will need to be already SQ to be eligible in time for the World Cup, rather than the change in regulations, no?

    2. I was thinking that too but he’s signed for Newcastle. There are probably a couple of positions (tighthead and standoff) where it has to be all Scots-qualified playing or we run out of depth in a year or two.

  4. Will take that group, and Oli McKebble being Scottish in 3 years.

    Hopefully, Ireland’s quadrennial implosion will be on time and South Africa will still be in the doldrums, should we qualify in first. Bring it on!

    However, if any of the team are thinking of doing a Finlay Calder on the Irish full back (like in 1991), please think twice – there are TMOs nowadays!

    1. ‘Forearm Finlay’!
      Very happy with this draw. If we stay on our current track we have a strong chance of qualifying for the quarters and a good chance of topping the group on the way. Eng, Fra and Arg looks like the group of death this time round.

    2. Does Kebble still qualify after 3 years now that the residency law has changed to 5 ? Technically he hasn’t started his Warriors contract yet. Apologies I’ve just read the post and it states he does.

      1. Correct. He’ll qualify in three years provided he takes up residency sharpish. Whether it will be in time for the World Cup will probably be cutting it fine.

  5. It is a good draw but we will still need to be on top form as I don’t think there will be any easy games come 2019.

    We should be targeting topping the group but even second place should hold no fears, after all the team will have experienced beating the ABs after this autumn!

  6. Not only would a Pool win avoid NZ in the Quarters, it would likely avoid either NZ or England until the final (ok, calm down). I can’t find confirmation of Semi pairing for 2019 but in 2015 what would be the winners of the Pools would be A v D and B v C in semis, so if we were to win the Pool it would likely be:
    South Africa QF
    Australia (or Wales) Semi
    NZ/England Final

    More favourable than finishing runners-up:
    NZ QF
    England SF
    Australia Final

    Looking like great draw for Aus again. Win their Pool and likely to be France/Argentina, then Ireland/Scotland/SA, before NZ or England in final.

  7. Quote from Jamie Heaslip “Getting to avoid South Africa, France and Wales, that’s a big thing for us.”

    Motivation right there to beat Ireland into 2nd. QF against NZ or SA looks tough though….

    1. Motivation indeed. Ireland fans on their forums are already congratulating their team on topping the group in two and a half years’ time. Just like they were congratulating themselves on their forthcoming Grand Slam before this year’s 6N ………

      1. Well done Thomas on the stupidest comment of the day. Have a Maris Piper to celebrate.

    2. Just watched the RTE news where there was jubilation at Ireland avoiding the “big guns” in their pool. In the Irish media, at least, they don’t rate Scotland, but we have seen where complacency got Ireland in the first match of the 6N..

      1. Ireland fans were v confident of a first ever SF and final in 2015 and got battered by Arg. In fact Ireland are serial World Cup chokers, that’s why they were so relieved they got an ‘easy’ draw because they don’t have the confidence to get through any serious challenge at a World Cup. Which is a fragile mindset for any team to have going into a major tournament.

    3. “We’ve avoided the 6th, 7th and 8th best teams in the world. And got the 5th best instead”.

    4. Lets face it…the world doesn’t rate us, despite 5th ranking….bookies odds (for the win) have us below Argentina even.

      I guess they can think what they like…its no bother of ours.

      1. Agree we’re still not taken seriously despite our current ranking. Price to pay for being pretty naff for over 10 years up to 2015 tbh. Many non-Scots pundits rate the last year and a half of our re-emergence as something of a flash in the pan – a very long flash it has to be said.
        Still, if our relatively youthful pool of players can improve even more under Toonie, reinforced by the efforts of Rennie and Cockerill at their clubs and by success of SQ players outside the Pro 12, it’s possible we could approach RWC as a team to be both respected and feared on the world stage. It would be lovely to kick that approach off with away wins in Cardiff and/or Dublin next year.

      2. the World doesn’t rate us it is true. Turning around reputations takes time. I remember being in denial about Ireland being a good team until about 2005. Despite their strong showings since the inception of the 6N, the memory of them being an utter laughing stock throughout the 90s took a while to dissipate. I felt the same to a lesser extent with Wales.

  8. Hmm, by that point Ireland will be with Best, Ryan, Toner (possibly), O’Brien (possibly), Heaslipp, Sexton, Payne, Bowe, Earls, Trimble, Kearney.

    We look to be a team on the up.

    Favourable group IMO, but the timing of the Japan game is key.

    1. The thing is with Ireland you can’t assume that because these players may all be a little past their best they will be a lesser team.

      In the not to distant past they had the prospect of losing Wood, O’Gara, O’Driscoll, Dempsey, Foley, Horgan, Stringer, etc., but they always replace them with another excellent player. You can pretty much guarantee that they will have a conveyor belt of young players ready to fill the gaps.


  9. A decent draw. It’s always great for the competition for the hosts to get through to the knockout stages, so I feel a touch sad about needing to put Japan out of the competition for us to get through – but I’ll get over it!

    Expect everyone to be rooting for Japan against us.

    1. Don’t have to put Japan out, we can both put Ireland out! Nothing would make me happier!

  10. Apart from people rooting for Japan, if we keep playing the way we have, I can see us becoming a lot of people’s second team; much like what happened in the 6N.

  11. Cracking draw, cannot wait. if the boys are fit, we’ll top the group and then have the savas in qf. due a win there

  12. If the draw is done by world rankings, why, at the 3rd level, are Fiji (rank 10) not there but Italy (rank 15) are?

    1. Because finishings in the last World Cup (ie 3rd and above in your pool) automatically qualifies you for next WC I believe.

      Edit: much to the chagrin of many other tier 2 teams I’m sure, Italy seem to have a knack of getting easy-ish groups in terms of competiton for the 3rd spot.

  13. I still think it is mental to select the groups this early. Pick them in the December before the tournament, give it some razzmatazz and get the excitement building!

    1. Totally. And why draw when you don’t even know who’s going to be in the tournament yet? It’s mental.

  14. Is it just me that’s feeling a bit deflated by the draw? If it goes to form we’ve got a quarter final against the ABs. To even get that we have to beat Japan at home, in an atmosphere unlike any we’ve played in ever. And if we over-achieve and beat the Irish, our reward is a quarter against the springboks? Cheers.

    Compare that to South Africa. All they have to do to pretty much guarantee a QF is beat Italy. And their quarter will (according to seeding) be against notorious knockout bottle-jobs Ireland. Offer me the swap, I’d bite your hand off.

    1. Most important thing is we avoided Argentina’s group. It could have been so much worse.

      Also, our group is probably unique in that Ireland, Japan and ourselves are probably all pretty happy with how draw has panned out. We can top the group and play a SA side that is not yet showing any signs of recovering from its worst period in its history. To do so we need to knock over notorious bottle jobs Ireland. We’ve already discovered the formula to make their world class competitive temperament dissolve: delay their bus by 10 minutes and target Murray’s standing leg. Easy!

    2. You mean an atmosphere like a test match in Japan? Scotland will be one of the few nations to actually have sampled that ahead of time (twice)…

      1. Aw, you guys have cheered me up a bit. Love the blueprint for beating Ireland!

        Totally, could have been worse, but assuming the dream is semis – and why shouldn’t it be after last time? – we have to either beat NZ, or beat Ireland AND South Africa. Not getting the positivity.

      1. Thomas, this is a thread about the RWC 19 draw. We’re in the same group, so why wouldn’t we discuss Ireland? Especially as you’re the world ranked 4 team that we beat this year.
        So, build your steam up and be a good Tank Engine and rumble back to your siding.

  15. Trust me by 2019 we will beat you guys by the way aside from the World Cup semis what have Scotland won in the last ten years and have they ever beaten New Zealand you lot are very mouthy

    1. We may as well shut down the Blog now. No need for any more discussion about Scotlands chances now the Oracle has spoken. Let’s just spend the next 2.5 years with a hagiography of the glorious Irish rugby team.

  16. I did not say we were glorious but you scots seem to be getting ahead of yourselves. Ireland will have an awesome young team with ringrose Byrne and carbery by then. Anyway I apologise and am sorry about my earlier comments on the forum

    1. It is a good draw for Scotland. Ireland are the weakest of the top seeds and we’ve beaten them in the recent past. So there is a realistic chance of us winning the group, even if Ireland are favourites.

      1. Look I am sorry for annoying you guys on forum but I am entitled to express my own opinion about my own team. I am sure Ireland deserved to be in the tier 1 draw

    1. Ireland are very far from crap and Scotland will do well to respect them for the strong team that they are and likely will be in 2019. I don’t understand the comments about Ireland being bottlers – a team that can beat the ABs and regularly beat England are not bottlers. If anything, Scotland can be accused of bottling when it comes to those teams.

      As a Scot living in Ireland what does annoy me though is the dismissive comments made in the Irish media about the Scottish team. Actually the biggest **** in that respect is Kiwi pundit on RTE, Brent Pope.

      Anyway, we can all look forward to exciting pool matches in a couple of year’s time!

    2. I don’t think anyone is saying Ireland are cr@p.

      What we’re saying is that, given recent records against the top 4 seeds, this is the best draw Scotland could’ve got. We are also confident that we will, at the very least, compete for the top spot in the group, because we’ve beaten Japan at home recently and also beat Ireland in February. The game last year was also closer than the scoreline would suggest, and would’ve been even closer if not for some calamitous defending that allowed Earls to score. It would seem that it is Ireland who have underestimated Scotland, not the other way around.

      Scotland are a team on the way up, not yet reaching maturity. In particular, our half-backs will be just about at peak in 2019, whereas Irelands’s first choice (if they are still that) will be heading towards the tail end of their careers.

      Also, Scotland have a demonstrably better record in World Cups. From 1987–2011, we went further than Ireland in the tournament on three occasions (1991, 1999 and 2007), while Ireland went further than us only once (2011). In 2015, we were one dodgy penalty away from the semi-final, whereas Ireland crashed and burned to Argentina. Even just taking the last three tournaments, when Ireland were fairly obviously a better all-round squad, Scotland’s overall performance has been better.

      That is what our confidence is based on, not some throwaway jibe about the Irish team. Yes, Ringrose and Carberry look to be tremendous players, but that’s only two members of the squad.

  17. I haven’t mentioned stander Murray sexton o Mahoney, henshaw and furlong to add to that list. But I appreciate what you are saying

    1. No one is arguing that at the moment Ireland are obvious favourites and have many wonderfully talented players. Just that they are more beatable than the other top seeds.

      My jibe about Ireland being bottlers is really because Ireland’s RWC recor is miserable, despite the ‘golden generation’ and the justified hopes of many fans that there was a credible route to the final in RWC2015. Just as Argentina seem to peak for world cups Ireland seem to flatline.

  18. I think this is an exciting draw, and given the way the Japanese have taken to the game in the last few years, could provide some of the best rugby seen at the group stage of a RWC.

    Lots of chat about potential QF opponents, groups of death and so on. The more groups of death there are the better for the sport – it means that rugby is being played at the highest level in more countries, and more teams have the ability and skill to win on one of world sports most challenging stages. I think Scotland have the potential to win this group, but could also finish 3rd – as could Ireland or Japan as well. There is also a possibility that England could miss out on a QF place for the second RWC in succession. It’s unlikely to happen, but it shows that there is greater depth to the game, and that the conversation is even being heard is no bad thing for the game.

    So Scotland have a number of challenges in the next 2 years – identify and blood genuine alternatives to Finn and Hogg, continue to build experience in the front row, and look to further develop the Academy system to reduce the reliance on Project players now that door is closing.

    Long term success requires at least 3 Test-quality players in each position. Arguably Scotland now have that in the Second row, back row and centre. They are getting there at Scrum half and Wing. The weaknesses are 1-3, 10 and 15 as mentioned. Ireland & Japan won’t be standing still during the time to RWC ’19 – Scotland can’t afford to either.

  19. To be fair, of all the 2nd tier teams Scotland would be everyone’s preferred choice., likewise Ireland is Still a long time before we have any idea of what the Scotland team (and any other for that matter) will look like, but of our current best 23 I think Dickinson, Ford, Laidlaw and maybe Nel are the only ones that could be at risk from an age related drop in form / retirement. Most other players will be in that sweet spot of 25-32 so with Toony getting 20 games to get us ready I think it is fair at this stage to be quietly bullish.

    1. Absolutely agree. The home nation must have loved this draw. I suspect that most of us on this blog don’t really believe we’re 5th in the world, despite the rankings. And who would anyone rather play against – the NZ, Oz, England or Ireland? Most would pick Ireland despite their wins over the ABs and England recently. So a tight group which Japan will target one, or both scalps.
      As for age, I think Barclay, Strauss and Visser would be a little long in the tooth in 2019 too, but equally they may be of the fine wine type, and yet still under 34 so not available for the Vets!!

    2. Wales as well judging on the six nations. would you not have liked to have got them

      1. You trolling? You know Scotland couldn’t draw Wales in the WC yeah? But yes, we’d be similarly happy had we hypothetically drawn Wales as our top seeds in the group.

  20. Looked at objectively it’s a good draw for all of Ireland, Scotland and Japan. All three will think they can go through. Likely neither Fiji nor Samoa, Romania frankly preferable to either. Last slot shouldn’t trouble any team with ambitions of a QF. Much may depend on the opening game. Expect Japan as hosts to feature, I really hope it’s not against us.

  21. Good to see us beating S Africa, Canada and Japan in the Paris Sevens Day 1 today! The first two are major scalps.

    1. Missed the Saffer game but caught the Canada game. Edge of the seat thrills. Well done, Scotland 7s!

      1. First two were good, but we were pretty sloppy against Japan. Play like that against Fiji and we’ll come third.

      1. Beating England 19-17 (and not as close as it sounds). SA or NZ in the final :) We’ve now beaten the teams ranked 1, 2 and 3 in the tournament.

  22. A big thank you to Bill Johnstone, as he steps down, for his many years of entertaining and informative rugby commentary. Bill really “added value” to what was happening on the field and has set a very high standard for any one aspiring to step into his shoes. Here’s hoping that the BBC will be imaginative and appropriately selective in appointing a replacement.

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Scottish Rugby News and Opinion