World Cup draw date announced
The IRB have confirmed the draw for the pool stages of the 2015 World Cup in England will take place on December 3 in London.
As was the case for the 2011 tournament, the IRB world rankings will play a key part in the draw with the top four sides at the time of the draw being kept apart in the pool stage.
That means the upcoming summer tours and the November internationals will take on extra significance as sides attempt to give themselves the best chance of a favourable draw.
World champions New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and England currently occupy the top four spots, with Six Nations champions Wales narrowly behind in fifth and France in sixth.
The top 12 sides from the 2011 tournament have already qualified for the 2015 finals, and will be banded into three groups of four based on their position in the rankings.
The eight teams who will make up bands four and five will come through the ongoing regional qualification tournaments.
"The format of seeding teams for the Rugby World Cup pool allocation draw using the IRB World Rankings is a credible, succinct and proven method that reflects form, stimulates interest and is backed by our unions," said IRB and Rugby World Cup Limited chairman Bernard Lapasset.
"With every Test match played between now and the draw counting towards the IRB world rankings the pool allocation draw adds an extra dimension to a mouth-watering year that features the new tours and Test schedule as well as Argentina's inclusion in the new Rugby Championship."
England Rugby 2015 chief Paul Vaughan added: "The pool allocation draw is another major milestone as momentum builds towards England's hosting of Rugby's showcase event. The draw is particularly significant for the teams and for the fans as they can really begin their journey towards Rugby World Cup 2015."