Australia has been drawn to face host nation England and reigning Six Nations champions Wales in the pool rounds of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The International Rugby Board announced overnight the four pools of five nations each that will compete for the William Webb Ellis trophy at the eighth staging of the game’s showpiece event.
UK commentators have already labelled Pool A the “Group of Death” with Fiji also set to take their place alongside Australia, England and Wales should the Pacific Islanders advance as expected as the leading qualifier from the Oceania region.
A repechage winner will also emerge – one of eight nations that will eventually come through qualifying into the main 20-team draw – to round out Pool A.
As the No.3 team on the official world rankings, the Australians are the top seeds in their pool for the 2015 event in the UK.
However, a new-look England, ranked No.5, sent notice last weekend that they are a team on the rise with a shock victory over the All Blacks at Twickenham.
Wales, who lost 3-nil to the Qantas Wallabies in a closely-fought series in Australia in June, also came within seconds of claiming a Southern Hemisphere scalp on Sunday morning.
The Welsh led the Qantas Wallabies deep into the final minute of the Cardiff Test until a Kurtley Beale try delivered the Australians a memorable victory.
If the Australians can overcome the challenges of England, Wales and potentially Fiji at the 2015 RWC, they will top their pool and almost certainly avoid the prospect of playing the All Blacks or the Springboks in the quarter-finals or semi-finals.
The draw has the winner of Pool A playing the runner-up of Pool B in the quarter finals.
South Africa is currently the highest ranked team in Pool B and, should they win the pool, Samoa and Scotland would be the obvious contenders for the runner-up position and a place in the quarter final against the top side in Pool A.
If current rankings were to hold true in 2015 and Australia won their pool and later their quarter-final, they would likely play France, Ireland or Argentina in the semi-finals.
The world’s No.1 team, the All Blacks, are in Pool C, together with Argentina, Tonga, and yet to be determined qualifiers from Europe and Africa.
South Africa, second in the world rankings just ahead of the Qantas Wallabies, are in Pool B with Samoa, Scotland and yet to be determined qualifiers from Asia and the Americas.
France, presently fourth in the world rankings, are top seeds in Pool D, ahead of Ireland, Italy and yet to be determined qualifiers from Europe and the Americas.
Watch the Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool Allocation Draw on rugby.com.au here.
The Pools for the 2015 Rugby World Cup are as follows: