What time is it? Who has qualified? Who can England face?

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That leaves the way open for Australia, the third-seeded team, to make their way through the other side of the draw with likely match-ups against France in the quarters and then Ireland in the semifinals.

The winners of QF 1 and QF 2 would meet in the semi-finals as would the winners of QF 3 and QF 4. "The first reaction is one of excitement that we know which pool we'll be in", Townsend said.

Eddie Jones will look to emulate James Bond by making England "bulletproof" at the right time in preparation for navigating the 2019 World Cup's most punishing group.

The head coach himself, however, was taking nothing for granted after hearing the draw. You've got to beat good teams and we've got two big games against France and Argentina.

Reigning champions New Zealand will have Southern Hemisphere rivals South Africa for company in Pool B along with Six Nations whipping boys Italy, who it must be said could not have faced a more hard draw given the calibre of the All Blacks and the Springboks at the World Cup.

"We don't control who we get".

"France are probably one of the most improved teams in the world and Argentina are improving rapidly".

"Any one of those top eight teams is going to be tough", Hansen told reporters after the title-holders were bracketed with South Africa and Italy in Pool B at Wednesday's draw in Kyoto.

They famously beat South Africa for the first time in their history last November and Conor O'Shea has the Azzurri improving all the time.

Ireland have met Japan twice before in the Rugby World Cup, beating in Dublin in 1991 and South Africa in 1995, but the Irish will be wary of a developing nation that memorably beat South Africa in the last World Cup.

Jones though is anything but perturbed and says he is already relishing the challenge. "We play Argentina in two Tests in the summer, so we'll have plenty of experience of them". "That will be great motivation for our players".

It is yet another testing draw for Six Nations winners and 2003 world champions England, who failed to get out of a "group of death" as hosts two years ago when they faced Australia and Wales.

"[France] are really improving and are certainly a risky team".

Abe added: "Soon the Rugby World Cup will bring bring the greatest rugby players in the world to Japan.it will be the ideal chance to showcase this sport to the rest of Asia, which holds over half the world's population".

"They have some strong forward play and some gas out wide, so between now and 2019 we're going to have to learn a bit about them".

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