Australia played nailbiters against both sides during the recent autumn Tests, with a try from the last play of the game needed to overcome Wales at the weekend and a tight battle with England at Twickenham that could have gone either way.
The draw pits teams together based on world rankings, with one from the top four (Australia), one from fifth to eighth (England) and then one from ninth to 12th (Wales).
Both England and Wales could have avoided this predicament had they not dropped places with mixed form in the recent four Test series.
The three teams will be joined by the winners of the Oceania qualifying group and winners of a minnow nations play-off.
Robbie Deans agreed the draw was a toughie for his inconsistent Wallabies.
“When you look at the sides and you look at history, that’s an easy suggestion to make, but they’re all tough,” he said at the announcement of the draw in London.
“The fact of the matter is once you get into the tournament, there’s no such thing as an easy draw.”
That’s not entirely true.
South Africa’s toughest matches will be against Samoa and Scotland in pool B while New Zealand will meet Argentina and Tonga in pool C – hardly comparable regardless of how those teams develop in the lead up to the tournament.
The next toughest pool will D, which features the ever-dangerous French, alongside the combative Italians and Ireland, who, on their day will run anyone close.
But all eyes will be on pool A.
Wallabies flanker David Pocock believes England’s hosting status gave them a leg up (not that it helped Australia when England beat them in the world cup final in 2003).
“To win the tournament, you have to beat the best and deal with what you’re dealt,” Pocock said.
Pool games are yet to be allocated grounds, but there’s every chance Wales will get to play some of their pool games at the imposing Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.
“Potentially playing Wales at Millennium Stadium, that will also be a massive match for us,” he added.
England coach Stuart Lancaster used the word “fate” when it came to assessing the draw.
“It’s a pretty tough pool,” he said. “Wales, I’ve got a huge amount of respect for what they’ve done recently.
“Australia have just beaten us and are an incredibly competitive nation. We’ll look forward to it in a few years’ time.”
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