Scotland boss Gregor Townsend eagerly awaits World Cup clash with hosts Japan


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Japan will become the first Asian country to host the World Cup, a move which aims to ignite rugby passion around the region.

The group is completed by two qualifiers - Americas 1, which will be the United States or Canada, and Oceania 2, which looks set to be Samoa or Fiji.

England will be hoping to do better the time round, after a bad performance in the last World Cup, when they became the first team to host the tournament and exit before the knockout stages.

"Who's calling it the Group of Death?" he asked, shortly after Noves and Argentina coach Daniel Hourcade had done just that.

England, being seeded second, cannot play the All Blacks in the group stages, which will be a relief, but they could run into Wales, who beat them in the 2015 World Cup, yet again.

World champions New Zealand were drawn with twice winners South Africa and Italy in Pool B, while hosts Japan will take on Ireland and Scotland and two yet to be determined teams in Pool A.

Scotland were grouped with Ireland and Japan in Pool A for the 2019 tournament along with a European qualifier - Romania now top the rankings - and a cross-continental play-off victor.

Two-time defending champion New Zealand will play South Africa, Italy, Africa 1 and the Repechage victor in Pool B.

All qualifying will be finished by the end of next year and the top two teams from each pool will reach the quarter-finals, with the tournament beginning on September 20 before concluding with the final at the International Stadium in Yokohama on November 2.

Three-time victor New Zealand and South Africa are familiar foes, having already played each other 93 times, with the All Blacks winning 55 of those matches.

Australia head coach Michael Cheika, England head coach Eddie Jones and South Africa head coach Allister Coetzee attend a news conference after the Rugby World Cup 2019 pool draw.

Cheika is en route to Japan for Wednesday night's draw in Kyoto, where the Wallabies face the prospect of landing in the same pool as two of their Rugby Championship and 2015 semi-final rivals.

And what about the current champions New Zealand?

"The 2015 World Cup was a great tournament with some brilliant rugby played and I'm sure the next one in Japan will be even better".

"If that comes to fruition then clearly they're going to be a different beast in the World Cup year than what they are now".

He also added that England will use the two tests against Argentina in June to "practice a little bit", and said France "have really improved over the past two years and are certainly a unsafe team".

"They really improved over the last two years and are certainly a risky team".

"Playing the hosts makes it a bigger challenge but one we will relish".

"Obviously with heat and humidity it's something we need to plan for", said Hansen, identifying one possible cause for concern. "It's an exciting place to come to and we all wish it the best".