The wait is over and the top rugby nations can now begin preparing knowing who they will face in their group matches at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
With England staging the tournament for the first time since 1991, the pressure will clearly be on the hosts to deliver performances in front of their home fans. That said, the biggest weight of expectation will surely be placed on reigning World Champions New Zealand as they set about aiming to become the first nation to successfully defend their title. The All Blacks reign of a record 20 games unbeaten may have come to an end but they surely begin as pre-tournament favourites.
Naturally the Southern Hemisphere heavyweights of South Africa and Australia, themselves both former World Champions, will be right there in the mix when it comes to the business end of proceedings whilst who can rule out the unpredictable nature of France who were the 2011 beaten finalists.
Group A – Australia, England, Wales, Oceania 1, Play-off winner
Group C – New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, Europe 1, Africa 2
With only four groups comprising of five nations each, there was bound to be some mouth watering ties, especially with England dropping down to the second tier of seeding and the reigning Six Nations Champions, Wales, falling from grace into the third tier. Further qualifiers are still to be determined but the countdown is well and truly underway following this draw.
Undoubtedly, the outstanding games of the group matches will be contested in Group A where England face old adversies in the form of both Wales and Australia, who they defeated in the 2003 final.
With only two nations qualifying from each group and the runners-up facing another group winner, topping the group is essential for a perceived easier route through the competition. That said, there will certainly be no easy games as each country has qualified on merit and will be determined to do their nation proud on rugby’s biggest stage.
As usual there will be plenty of talk and speculation in the build-up to the tournament but the action will take over once the first game is under way come 2015. Who will emerge victorious and claim the Webb Ellis trophy come October 31st 2015 at Twickenham?