Ireland to face France, Italy in RWC 2015
Ireland have been drawn alongside France and Italy in Pool D of the Rugby World Cup 2015.
Declan Kidney’s men will also face either the USA or Canada (winner of the Americas 1 stage), and the runner-up from a qualifying group containing Georgia, Romania, Spain, Russia, Portugal and Belgium.
The draw also means that should Ireland qualify in second place, they would most likely face New Zealand in the quarter-finals, the All Blacks being the band 1 nation in Pool C.
In the event that Ireland win the pool, a showdown with Argentina is on the cards.
Host nation England have been drawn in the same pool as Wales and Australia.
Scotland are in with Pool B rivals South Africa, Samoa, Asia 1 and Americas 2.
The tournament kicks off on 18 September, 2015, with Twickenham staging the final six weeks later.
Today's draw, held at the Tate Modern art gallery in London, presents Stuart Lancaster's team with a tough task, although they managed to avoid world champions New Zealand, the team they beat at Twickenham two days ago.
England's group - Pool A - will be completed by two qualifiers, Oceania 1 (probably Fiji) and the play-off winner, possibly Uruguay.
Pool A: Australia, England, Wales, Play-off winner, Oceania 1
Pool B: South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, Americas 2, Asia 1
Pool C: New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, Africa 1, Europe 1
Pool D: France, Ireland, Italy, Americas 1 (Either USA or Canada), Europe 2 (2nd-place team from Georgia, Romania, Spain, Russia, Portugal and Belgium)
*The top two teams from each pool qualify for the quarter-finals
— Irish Rugby (@irfurugby) December 3, 2012
Ireland coach Declan Kidney insists Pool D has a familiar look to it and fears the lure of winning a World Cup on English soil will inspire France.
"We've been drawn in a group where everybody knows one another. It's going to make things really tight in 2015," he said.
"We're obviously playing each other in the Six Nations three times before then. We also have a tour to the Americas in June when we'll be playing Canada twice and America once.
"And then we have World Cup history with Russia and Georgia, so there won't be too many surprises.
"We played France a couple of times in the World Cup and came second by a bit. They've always shown themselves to be an extremely good side who peak for that competition.
"I'm sure they'd like nothing better than to win the World Cup in England. We know we have a huge task ahead of us."