How teams in Europe will qualify for Rugby World Cup 2023

We look at the qualification pathway for the teams looking to join the Six Nations at Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.

At least eight of the 20 teams who will compete at Rugby World Cup 2023 will come from Europe.

Each of the Six Nations qualified for next year’s tournament in France due to their performance at RWC 2019 in Japan.

Two remaining direct qualification spots are up for grabs with the 2021 and 2022 Rugby Europe Championship acting as the pathway to RWC 2023.

Those places will go to the teams that finish first and second in the combined table following the conclusion of this season’s Championship. The team that finishes third, meanwhile, will advance to the Final Qualification Tournament.

Georgia, Spain, Portugal, Russia and Romania made sure of their places in the RWC 2023 qualification pathway as they finished in the top five of the six-team Rugby Europe Championship 2020.

Belgium, who ended the COVID-19 disrupted campaign bottom of the standings, faced a play-off against the Netherlands, who had won the Rugby Europe Trophy 2019-20.

At the Stade du Pachy on 29 May, 2021, a late David Weersma penalty ensured it was the Netherlands who would complete the line-up for the 2021 and 2022 Rugby Europe Championship, following a narrow 23-21 win.

By the time that Weersma kicked the Dutch to victory in Waterloo, the 2021 Rugby Europe Championship was already underway.

Qualifying in Europe

Teams Involved

Qualified Teams
Qualified for RWC 2023
France
World Ranking 2nd
Highest RWC Finish
Runner up
1987, 1999, 2011
Qualified for RWC 2023
Ireland
World Ranking 4th
Highest RWC Finish
Quarter-Finals
1987, 1991, 1995, 2003, 2011, 2015, 2019
Qualified for RWC 2023
England
World Ranking 5th
Highest RWC Finish
Winners
2003
Qualified for RWC 2023
Scotland
World Ranking 7th
Highest RWC Finish
Semi-Finals
1991
Qualified for RWC 2023
Wales
World Ranking 9th
Highest RWC Finish
Semi-Finals
1987, 2011, 2019
Qualified for RWC 2023
Italy
World Ranking 14th
Highest RWC Finish
Pools
1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
Qualified for RWC 2023
Georgia
World Ranking 12th
Highest RWC Finish
Pools
2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
Qualified for RWC 2023
Qualification Winner
Can Still Qualify
Can Still Qualify
Spain
World Ranking 15th
Highest RWC Finish
Pools
1999
Can Still Qualify
Portugal
World Ranking 20th
Highest RWC Finish
Pools
2007
Can Still Qualify
Romania
World Ranking 17th
Highest RWC Finish
Pools
1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015
Can Still Qualify
Netherlands
World Ranking 26th
Highest RWC Finish
Never qualified

Lelos pacesetters at half-way stage

Georgia continued their recent good form in the competition as they opened their campaign with away victories in Portugal, Spain and Russia.

The Lelos then beat Romania 28-17 in Tbilisi to open a nine-point lead at the top of the Championship at the end of March.

Following their play-off defeat of Belgium, the Netherlands’ first Rugby Europe Championship fixture in 19 years came away from home against the leaders in June.

Davit Niniashvili scored three of Georgia’s eight tries in Telavi as the hosts claimed a 48-15 victory that confirmed their fourth successive Rugby Europe Championship title.

It means that at the half-way stage, the Lelos are in pole position to claim top spot in the combined 2021 and 2022 table and qualify for RWC 2023 as Europe 1.

Georgia head into the 2022 Rugby Europe Championship with 24 points and a 10-point lead atop the combined standings.

Romania and Portugal both have 14 points with five matches to go, having won three and lost two during the 2021 campaign.

It is the Oaks, though, who sit second thanks to their 28-27 win in Lisbon last March, which was secured by two converted tries in the final 10 minutes.

Spain are two points further back, having won two matches in 2021, as did Russia who are on nine points heading into the 2022 Rugby Europe Championship.

The Netherlands lost each of their five matches on their return to the Championship and cannot afford any further slip-ups if they are to qualify for RWC 2023.

However, their hopes of playing in France are not over yet. The team that finishes third in the combined 2021 and 2022 table will compete in the Final Qualification Tournament in November, meaning there is a lot to play for over the next six weeks.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about the Rugby Europe Championship 2022 >>

Regional Qualifiers