World champions South Africa have been drawn with Ireland and Scotland in Pool B for the 2023 Rugby World Cup to be played in France.
The two other teams to complete the five-team pool will be sides that qualify through playoff matches from Asia-Pacific and European qualifying.
The tournament will kick off on September 8 with the final to be played on October 21 in Paris.
The Springboks are currently the top-ranked team in the world despite not playing a Test this year. They beat England in the final in Japan in 2019 to be crowned World Cup winners for the third time.
Hosts France were drawn in Pool A with New Zealand and Italy, while England will be alongside Japan and Argentina in Pool D.
In Pool C Wales will face Australia and Fiji.
The remaining two teams in each pool will come from qualifying matches involving teams from Europe, Oceania, Africa and Asia-Pacific.
“We are obviously excited about the draw, and although the Rugby World Cup in France is still almost three years away, it’s good to have an end-goal to work towards,” said Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber.
“To be in the same pool as Ireland and Scotland will be a massive challenge, but to win the tournament, you have to be able to beat all the teams and we will be properly tested in the pool phases.
“We saw last year the margin for error – even during the pool stages – at any Rugby World Cup is very small.
“Take for instance our situation where we simply had to win every single pool game after our loss to the All Blacks in Japan, to ensure we qualify for the knockout stages.
“If you look at the countries in the top three bands, I would say each one of those teams is capable of beating another on any given day, proven by a team such as Japan, who have made huge strides in recent years.”
Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said the draw heralded a significant marker for the team to aim at. “It’s exciting, really, to know who your RWC pool opponents will be.
However, Kolisi said that for the immediate future, the Springboks’ attention will be on another huge and looming challenge.
“For now, we have to turn our attention to the massive challenge the British & 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,” added the Springbok captain.
Rugby World Cup 2023 Pools:
New Zealand, France, Italy, Americas 1, Africa 1
South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Asia / Pacific 1, Europe 2
Wales, Australia, Fiji, Europe 1, Final Qualifier Winner
England, Japan, Argentina, Oceania 1, Americas 2