Rugby World Cup: Future pool draws to take place closer to the tournament
World Rugby will hold the pool draws for future Rugby World Cups at a later date, closer to the kick-off of upcoming tournaments.
This comes after criticism that the draws were taking place far too early, with world rankings at the time of the draw playing a crucial role in the teams’ seedings.
Change in the World Rankings
The 2023 Rugby World Cup draw took place in December 2020, some 13 months after the 2019 tournament in Japan, almost a full three years before the tournament.
The rankings used to decide the 2023 World Cup pools meant that South Africa, New Zealand, England and Wales claimed band one seedings. The latter two have fallen out of the top four since with Wales now ranked 10th.
The set-up of the 2023 pools means that only two of Ireland, hosts France, New Zealand, defending champions South Africa and Scotland, can reach the semi-finals.
World Rugby will shake the pool draw up ahead of 2027, according to a report by the Mirror.
“World Rugby said it is able to make the change because of a new ‘hosting model’ that sees the international federation create collaborations with the host union,” the report read.
“The top of the men’s Test game has never been more competitive,” the spokesperson added. “There has never been so much movement over a two-year period.
“Bearing that in mind and noting the format of four pools of five teams, there is arguably no perfect time for a draw.”
The changes are set to be made ahead of the next World Cup in Australia.
How the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw worked
Due to COVID-19, the seedings for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, the RWC board decided that the World Rugby rankings as of 1 January 2020 would be used to determine the five bands.
That meant that no Test matches after the 2019 Rugby World Cup were accounted for before the next tournament draw.
12 of the 20 teams automatically qualified owing to a top-three place in their respective Rugby World Cup 2019 pools. They were: champions South Africa, England, Wales, New Zealand, Japan, France, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina and Fiji.
The bands as of 1 January 2020 were:
Band 1: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales
Band 2: Ireland, Australia, France, Japan
Band 3: Scotland, Argentina, Fiji, Italy
Band 4: Oceania 1, Europe 1, Americas 1, Asia / Pacific 1
Band 5: Africa 1, Europe 2, Americas 2, Final Qualifier Winner
The final pools are as follows (Qualifier winner = Portugal):
image credit: World Rugby
Had the draw taken place at the start of 2023, the top three bands would be:
Band 1: Ireland, France, New Zealand, South Africa
Band 2: England, Australia, Scotland, Argentina
Band 3: Wales, Japan, Italy, Fiji
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