12/03/2012 10:30 EST | Updated 02/02/2013 05:12 EST

Canadian rugby team learns what lies ahead at 2105 Rugby World Cup

After Monday's 2015 Rugby World Cup draw, Canada now has an idea of what lies ahead in England should Kieran Crowley's team qualify as expected.

Providing they get past the U.S. in a home-and-away playoff next summer, the Canadian men will land in an all-European World Cup pool with France, Ireland, Italy and a Euro qualifier.

The winner of that Canada-U.S. playoff qualifies as Americas 1 and will play in Pool D according to the Monday's World Cup draw at the Tate Modern art gallery in London.

When you are ranked 14th in the world, there is no easy draw in the 20-team tournament. But should the Canadians fail to qualify in their first attempt, the World Cup pools that awaits them get tougher.

The Canada-U.S. loser moves on to a home-and-away series with a South American team to determine who will be Americas 2 and join South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, and Asia 1 (likely Japan) in a bruising Pool B.

The loser of that playoff has a last-chance qualification route via a repechage. That repechage winner lands in what has already been dubbed the "group of death" — Pool A with Australia, host England, Wales and Oceania 1 (likely Fiji).

"It's a tough pool," England coach Stuart Lancaster said. "I guess it is fate that Wales and England would be put together."

The draw placed the 12 already qualified countries in four pools that will be fleshed out by eight qualifiers.

New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and France were kept apart in the opening round by virtue of their top four world ranking.

Wales is defending Six Nations champion but fell into the third tier of qualified countries by virtue of a poor run in the November tests.

The draw appears favourable for defending champion New Zealand and 2011 runner-up France. Should they win their pools, they could avoid each other until the final.

England and Australia, meanwhile, will likely be jockeying to win their pool and avoid a possible quarter-final date with South Africa. The Pool A winner can also avoid New Zealand in the final, providing the All Backs win their group.

The top two teams in each pool advance to the knockout quarter-finals with crossovers between Pools A and B, and C and D.

That's favourable to New Zealand and France in the bottom half of the draw.

With Crowley in South Africa with the sevens team, Canada was represented at the draw by Gareth Rees, former captain and current manager of the national men's program.

"I think it's probably a fair test," he said of Canada's possible road.

"New Zealand probably got what they wanted. They wouldn't say it but that's probably one of the more favourable draws. I think France is probably relatively happy, again."

In the 2011 tournament in New Zealand, the Canadians finished fourth with a 1-2-1 record in a pool that included the All Blacks, France, Japan and Tonga. France beat Canada 46-19.

At the 2003 tournament, Italy defeated Canada 19-14. A touring Italian side, meanwhile, defeated the Canadians 25-16 in June

Should Canada qualify as Americas 1 and then upset the odds by finishing second in its pool, its reward would likely be a date with the All Blacks. New Zealand has always finished top of its pool in Rugby World Cup history.

Canada's next games are slated for June. The Canadian men are expected to take part in an expanded Pacific Nations Cup and host the touring Irish.

Monday's draw marks the first time England has met Wales in the World Cup pool stages. France also faces Italy in the opening round for the first time.

Samoa and South Africa have now been drawn in the same pool at the last four Rugby World Cups. The same for Tonga and New Zealand.


2015 Rugby World Cup pools (with rankings in brackets):

A: Australia (3), England (5), Wales (9), Oceania 1, repechage winner

B: South Africa (2), Samoa (7), Scotland (12), Asia 1, Americas 2

C: New Zealand (1), Argentina (8), Tonga (11), Europe 1, Africa 1

D: France (4), Ireland (6), Italy (10), Americas 1, Europe 2


With a file from The Associated Press