Rugby has been one of our main focuses since starting Social Bull and with our eyes firmly fixed on the future, being a part of the Rugby World Cup draw for 2023 was a match made in heaven.
With times being how they are, not everyone could attend the event in Paris; we joined in virtually, as did all the coaches who were ready to watch on and see just who they would be preparing for over the next 3 years.
Yet this gave us an opportunity to host our own panel reaction show with Alex Payne hosting. We were joined by 2003 World Cup winner Jonny Wilkinson, Australian rugby legend Matt Giteau and Samoa Fly Half Bella Milo. We connected with the Paris stream and were ready to go.
Whilst we waited for the draw to take place, we got to reflect on what a draw means to players and coaches watching on. Speaking to the guys, it would seem that players do watch the draw, however you can’t get too excited or hopeful of who you face, as Jonny said “It doesn’t matter where these teams fall, you gotta find your way to the end by going through whatever is in your path”.
The draw broke down into 5 rounds splitting into 4 groups. With Band 5 being drawn 1st and working the way up to Band 1. In Band 1 we have last World Cup winners South Africa, New Zealand, England and Wales. In Band 2 it is Ireland, France, Australia and everyone’s 2nd team, Japan. Band 3 had Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy. Bands 4 and 5 are a little more complicated.
Band 4 and 5 are the unqualified teams. With the draw happening so early, we still have eight teams unnamed. But it is Europe with two places, except Georgia and possibly Romania. Asia and Oceania get two, these will be where Samoa and Tonga join the party. North and South America get two with Canada and the US seeming to be the favourites for that and finally Africa get one, Possibly Namibia. And finally, the last place is reserved for arguably the most complex play-off system in world sport, to predict that will give us all a headache.
When the draw began, it was the host nation, France that got the draw first. As you would expect from France, the great and the good have been gathered to do the draws, and the hosts got acting powerhouse, Jean Dujardin, who pulled France into Pool A.
Band 5 was drawn next with Africa 1 going into Pool A, Pool B got Europe 2, Pool C that complex qualifying winner and Pool D America 2. There was nothing really to react to here as they are undecided.
Band 4 followed next with America 1 in Pool A, Asia Pacific 1 in B, C got Europe 1 and Pool D had Oceania 1. And then we headed to the named teams with Christian Louboutin, donning a blazer with red trim that excited most of our panel, with Alex very jealous of his vibes and questions around the pronunciation of the shoemaker’s name.
Band 3 saw Italy drop into Pool A with France, Scotland found themselves in Pool B, Fiji is into Pool C and Pool D get The Pumas of Argentina.
Before we pulled Band 2, Matt Giteau gave his perspective on who Australia would least like to be drawn against from Band 3, ‘I think probably Argentina. This is purely based on the last two games they (Australia) played against them at home, they have drawn’. But Matt didn’t have to worry for long as Australia found themselves in Pool C with Fiji, Pool D got Japan and Ireland jumped into Pool B with Scotland.
And now the big guns came out, Band 1 was to be drawn. 1st drawn was New Zealand into Pool A who will do battle with old World Cup foes France. Pool B lands South Africa, and a silent groan of disbelief was admitted from Murray (our Scotland fan) that is looking at a tough group with Ireland in there as well. History repeated itself for the 3rd team in a row with Wales being drawn into Pool C with Australia and Fiji. Finally, Eddie Jones’ England head into Pool D against his former team Japan. And with that our draw was done and the excitement for Rugby 2023 could begin.
Bella was excited about Pool D “England, Japan and Argentina, wow those are some three big games, and if they have to go against each other back to back… yeah Pool D is gonna be the tough one” with Jonny adding “England historically haven’t played Japan that many times, and when they do it hasn’t been straightforward in any way….”
And with that the draw was over, our panellists were excited about what was to come and so are we, roll on 2023, we will be there for sure.
Check out our behind the scenes video of the draw below.