Boris Johnson and stars to light up RWC draw
- Star-studded draw begins countdown in earnest
- England set to welcome the world for spectacular festival of Rugby and culture
- IRB World Rankings race creates unprecedented buzz
- Draw televised live on ITV4 and rugbyworldcup.com
Mayor of London Boris Johnson will take centre stage at what promises to be a star-studded Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool Allocation Draw at an iconic London art gallery on the South Bank on December 3.
Johnson, who will be involved in the live draw to determine the pools the teams will be in, will also deliver a speech to give fans from around the world a taste of what to expect when England as host nation and London as a host city rolls out the welcome mat for the finest Rugby players from 20 nations and more than 400,000 fans from upwards of 120 nations.
Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset, England Rugby 2015 CEO Debbie Jevans, captain of the reigning world champions and three-time IRB Player of the Year Richie McCaw and outstanding England Women's player and ER 2015 Ambassador Maggie Alphonsi will join Johnson as draw presenters at the prestigious event. Rugby World Cup 2003 winner and ER 2015 Ambassador Will Greenwood will MC the event.
Captains and coaches from the 12 directly qualified teams will be in attendance along with representatives from teams hoping to join the party at England 2015 and secure one of the eight places available via the global qualification process, which kicked off earlier this year and will feature 80 nations.
"The anticipation ahead of the draw has been palpable. The race to secure a favourable position for the draw has been exciting and unprecedented and added an extra dimension for fans around the world. I am looking forward to an event that will truly signal the beginning of the countdown to England's hosting of Rugby World Cup 2015 for teams and fans," said Lapasset.
"The interest and excitement around the draw gives us a real taste of what to expect when England hosts the eighth Rugby World Cup in 2015 and an exceptional event that will engage new audiences the length and breadth of the country, while delivering a lasting legacy for the ongoing development of Rugby across England and around the world."
Johnson said: "It's an honour to be part of the 2015 draw, which decides the route that the world's best Rugby teams will take towards raising that magnificent trophy. It also marks the countdown to this great tournament, when the excitement really starts to build in anticipation of some awesome Rugby on our home soil.”
"London proved this summer that it is simply the best place in the world to stage international sport. So it’s fantastic that as host city for 2015 we have been given the honour of staging matches from another of the world's largest sporting events, which will see top flight competition return to London and the UK's iconic venues so quickly after the 2012 Games."
The IRB World Rankings will be used to rank the 12 directly qualified teams for England 2015 into three bands for that draw with the sides ranked one to four in band one - and crucially avoiding each other until the knockout stages - those five to eight in band two and the remaining four in band three.
If the Pool Allocation Draw was to happen today the bands would be as follows:
Band 1: New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, France
Band 2: England, Ireland, Wales, Samoa
Band 3: Argentina, Italy, Tonga, Scotland
Band 4: Oceania 1, Europe 1, Asia 1, Americas 1
Band 5: Africa 1, Europe 2, Americas 2, Repechage winner
We are now down to the final weekend of matches ahead of the draw with England hosting New Zealand at Twickenham and Wales taking on Australia in Cardiff. All eyes will be on the match at the Millennium Stadium, which is the only fixture that can change the draw banding.
Wales have their destiny in their own hands as a win could lift them as high as fifth, but crucially defeat will see them fall below Samoa and Argentina to occupy a place in band three for the Pool Allocation Draw.
McCaw will deliver the iconic Webb Ellis Cup to the draw along with Lapasset, Jevans and Johnson in an England 2015 branded Land Rover courtesy of the RWC 2015 Worldwide Partner.
The whole event will be streamed live on the official tournament website www.rugbyworldcup.com and all the buzz will be captured at the official @rugbyworldcup Twitter and Facebook platforms.