Rugby World Cup 2015 draw kind to All Blacks
Sportal.co.nz 04 Dec 2012 Getty Images
Pool B features South Africa, Samoa and Scotland – where the latter two are likely to battle it out for a quarter-final spot – while Pool D's big three are France, Ireland and Italy.
But it is Pool A, the undoubted group of death at the 2015 event, that will provide the most intrigue.
Only two of Australia, England and Wales will advance to the quarter-finals and the other will be left to head home with their tails between their legs and face the wrath of their expectant fans.
Australia and England have never failed to advance past the pool stages at a World Cup while Wales have only been bounced out early once – in 1991 when Samoa famously beat them at Cardiff Arms Park to advance to the quarters.
Adding to the interest is the fact the Oceania 1 qualifier, likely to be Fiji, is also in Pool A and will provide a sterner test than a side from Asia, Africa or Europe.
If the All Blacks advance through Pool A undefeated, they will play the second-ranked side in Pool D, which could be any one of France, Italy or Ireland given an upset or two.
From there, as seen in the 2011 event where France lost to Tonga in the pool stages but came within one point of lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy for the first time, anything can happen.
Pool A: Australia, England, Wales, Oceania 1, Playoff winner
Pool B: South Africa, Samoa, Scotland, Asia 1, Americas 2
Pool C: New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga, Europe 1, Africa 1
Pool D: France, Ireland, Italy, Americas 2, Europe 2
Most popular News:
Daunting tour for Sharks26.Apr.2015
All Blacks selection round table 2015: Outside backs26.Apr.2015
Ten crazy Super Rugby numbers we saw over the weekend26.Apr.2015
Ian Prior suspended for three weeks26.Apr.2015
Match centre: Reds v Hurricanes26.Apr.2015
Crusaders too solid for hesitant Blues25.Apr.2015