Huge 12 months ahead for Schmidt's Ireland with RWC pool draw set for 2017

World Rugby confirmed the draw will take place in Japan next year.

WORLD RUGBY HAS set the Rugby World Cup 2019 pool allocation draw for May 2017, with the event to take place in host nation Japan.

The official World Rugby rankings will again be used to determine seedings for the draw.

Confirmation of the pool draw only intensifies the importance of the next year for international sides, including Joe Schmidt’s Ireland.

Joe Schmidt Dan Sheridan / INPHO Joe Schmidt and Ireland have a big year ahead. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Schmidt’s men face a demanding schedule before the allocation draw, including three fixtures against South Africa, two against New Zealand, a meeting with Australia and the 2017 Six Nations.

The pool allocation draw for the 2015 Rugby World Cup took place three years out from that tournament, but World Rugby has decided that the three-year gap before the competition was too long.

Among those to criticise the early pool draw before RWC 2015, which took place in December 2012, was Wales coach Warren Gatland.

A seven-game losing streak running into December 2012 had left the Welsh ranked ninth in the world at that point, meaning that their pool for RWC 2015 would include two of the eight highest-ranked teams in the world.

It transpired that Wales, England and Australia were all in Pool A of last year’s tournament, although host nation England proved to be the loser in the group as they failed to advance into the quarter-finals.

The top nations in world rugby will naturally be keen to avoid being part of a similar pool at RWC 2019.

Ireland are currently ranked seventh in World Rugby’s official list, with France and Scotland occupying eighth and ninth respectively.

Of course, historic wins over South Africa and New Zealand could shift Ireland up the rankings this year, while they will be keen to rebound from their third-placed finish in this season’s Six Nations next year.

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