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All Blacks face France in 2023 Rugby World Cup pool stages

Hosts France will play three-time winners New Zealand in the standout match of the 2023 Rugby World Cup pool phase, after the draw was made in Paris on Monday. 

The countries have met each other seven times in World Cups, including in the 1987 and 2011 finals with the All Blacks winning on both occasions.

Italy and two qualifiers, one from the Americas and another from Africa, make up Pool A.

Holders South Africa will face Ireland and 2003 champions England take on Japan, who hosted the last World Cup in 2019, and Argentina, who beat New Zealand for the first time in their history in November.

“It’s exciting, really, to know who your RWC pool opponents will be for the 2023 tournament in France,” Springboks captain Siya Kolisi said.

“For now, we have to turn our attention to the massive challenge the British and Irish Lions will bring next year – there is huge anticipation, both at home and in the UK, for what promises to be another memorable Lions series in South Africa,” he added.

The Springboks will also go up against Scotland and a side from Asia/Pacific and a further European nation in Pool B.

Wales, who lost to England in the 2019 semi-finals, are in Pool C with two-time Webb Ellis trophy holders Australia as well as Fiji, a European team and the winner of the final qualifying tournament.

A qualifier each from Oceania and the Americas rounds out a competitive-looking Pool D with England, Japan and Argentina.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, seeding levels for the tournament draw were based on the world rankings on January 1, 2020 instead of after the autumn internationals as originally intended.

Organisers also moved the event forward to be able to start selling tickets in March next year, before ticket sales for the 2024 Paris Olympics begin in 2022.

The dozen countries from the draw will be joined by eight qualifiers, with the final lineup known by November 22.

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