Now the World Cup draw is over, the politics will start. Wales's reaction to being drawn in the same pool as the 2015 hosts, England, was to mischievously suggest that the match between the two rivals in the most demanding of the four groups should be played at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, one of the venues shortlisted for the tournament.
It will be staged at Twickenham, despite a dead-bat response from Debbie Jevans, the chief executive of England Rugby 2015, to the suggestion of Roger Lewis, the chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union, that Cardiff would be the most suitable location. The venues for all the pool matches will be decided in March by the board of Rugby World Cup Ltd and the smoke fanned by Wales was an attempt to disguise their chief ambition, to gain home advantage against the other tier one nation in the group, Australia.
Last year's World Cup final was the first since 1995 that had not involved either England or Australia and with Wales making the 2011 semi-final and then winning the grand slam in the Six Nations, all three will expect to progress from what was immediately dubbed the pool of death: Fiji, probably, and the winner of a play-off between teams who failed to qualify through their regions make up the five.
Should England finish in the top two of their pool, they would likely meet either South Africa or Samoa from Pool B in the quarter-final. "It is a tough pool, but if you are going to lift the World Cup you are going to have to win big games and you cannot go into it fearing anybody," said the England head coach, Stuart Lancaster. "Wales and Australia are both young sides who are going to be very competitive by 2015 and I guess it was fate that England and Wales were drawn together. Twickenham would be our preferred venue."
Australia and New Zealand have led the opposition on the International Rugby Board to Wales playing any of their pool matches at the Millennium Stadium on the basis that 2015 is a one-host tournament. If Wales did have home advantage against Australia, it could potentially work to the detriment of the hosts, although on the three occasions the World Cup has been held in Europe, the Wallabies have beaten Wales in Cardiff.
"It would be great if we were in Cardiff, but we are not afraid of playing at Twickenham," said the Wales and Lions head coach Warren Gatland, who has masterminded victories at England's HQ in 2008 and 2012. "I think it is a great pool to be in because last year showed that if you come out of a group as tough as this, it sets you up for the knock-out stage. The tougher, the better as far as I am concerned."
Gatland pointed out that the last two World Cup finals, England against South Africa in 2007 and New Zealand versus France last year, involved two teams from the same group. "It has sometimes been the undoing of New Zealand that they do not get tested enough in their groups," he said.
The holders, New Zealand, were grouped with Argentina and Tonga in Monday's draw which was made at the Tate Modern where the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was among those drawing the balls out of glass jars. "No one should take us lightly," said Epi Taione, the former Newcastle flanker who is Tonga's chief executive. "Teams from the Pacific islands are shaking up the old order of international rugby and we are determined to make the knockout stage."
Scotland, who like Wales were among the third group of seeds, were drawn with South Africa and Samoa while Pool D is almost exclusively European, headed by France, Ireland and Italy.
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