JOHANNESBURG – Springbok coach Allister Coetzee says being drawn to face the All Blacks in Pool B of the 2019 Rugby World Cup makes no difference at all.
Coetzee attended the draw at the Kyoto State Guest House in Kyoto, Japan on Wednesday, along with representatives from the other 11 qualified teams.
In addition to New Zealand, the defending champions, the Springboks were pooled with Italy, the Africa 1 qualifier and the winner of the repechage qualification tournament – both of which are yet to be decided.
“As I said before the draw was made – to us it doesn't matter who we are drawn against, because to win the Rugby World Cup, you have to beat the best teams out there,” said Coetzee.
“The pools consist of five teams each and history shows that you need to win at least three of your four pool matches to be sure of a place in the play-offs. We will focus on our journey towards the RWC 2019 and make sure we are ready and well prepared.
“We’ve been working hard since arriving back from the 2016 Castle Lager Outgoing Tour to ensure improved results from now on forward, with the Rugby World Cup on the distant horizon.
“If ever there was testimony that the gap between the top teams have closed, then we saw that at the over the past few months in the Northern Hemisphere. With New Zealand established as the number one side, there is also very little to choose between the top sides in the world, while the next batch of teams continue to improve.”
The Boks and All Blacks have clashed four times in Rugby World Cups before, with two victories each – South Africa won the Final in 1995 (15-12) and the bronze medal match in 1999 (22-18), while New Zealand came out tops in the quarter-final in 2003 (29-9) and the semi-final in 2015 (20-18).
Rugby World Cup pools:
Pool A: Ireland, Scotland, Japan, Europe 1, Play-off winner
Pool B: New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, Africa 1, Repechage winner
Pool C: England, France, Argentina, Americas 1, Oceania 2
Pool D: Australia, Wales, Georgia, Oceania 1, Americas 2