How teams in Europe will qualify for Rugby World Cup 2023

We recap the qualification pathway in Europe as Georgia and Romania joined the Six Nations at Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.

Rugby World Cup 2023 will feature at least eight European teams as each of the Six Nations qualified for the tournament through their performance at Japan 2019.

The remaining two guaranteed spots were subsequently awarded to the teams that finished first and second in the combined Rugby Europe Championship 2021 and 2022 standings.

Georgia went into the 2021 Championship as three-time defending champions and made a strong start, beating Portugal, Spain, Russia and Romania on successive weekends in March.

The Lelos then beat the Netherlands at the end of June to wrap up a fourth straight Championship clean sweep and put them within touching distance of RWC 2023 qualification.

At the halfway stage only two points separated second-placed Romania and fourth-placed Spain, setting the 2022 Championship up perfectly.

Having survived a scare at home against Portugal to draw 25-25 and beaten the Netherlands again, Georgia’s qualification was confirmed as a result of the Rugby World Cup Board’s decision to abandon all remaining matches involving Russia due to the invasion of Ukraine.

On 12 March 2022, the Lelos beat Romania to ensure they would play in France as Europe 1, taking their place in Pool C alongside Wales, Australia, Fiji and the Final Qualification Tournament winner.

Spain had kickstarted their campaign with back-to-back wins against the Netherlands, and subsequent defeats of Russia, Romania and a winner-takes-all encounter with Portugal helped them finish second in the combined 2021 and 2022 Championship standings.

Romania, who secured a crucial 37-27 defeat of Portugal on 12 February, recovered from defeat to Spain to claim third place with a final-round win in the Netherlands.

However, it is the Oaks who will head to RWC 2023 as Europe 2, after Spain were found to have fielded an ineligible player during the qualification process. Portugal will play in the Final Qualification Tournament.

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 1st
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 6th
Highest RWC Finish
Semi-Finals
1991
Qualified for RWC 2023
Wales
World Ranking 7th
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 13th
Highest RWC Finish
Pools
2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019
Qualified for RWC 2023
Romania
World Ranking 17th
Highest RWC Finish
Pools
1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015
Can Still Qualify
Can Still Qualify
Portugal
World Ranking 20th
Highest RWC Finish
Pools
2007
Did Not Qualify
Did Not Qualify
Netherlands
World Ranking 28th
Highest RWC Finish
Never qualified
Did Not Qualify
Spain
World Ranking 15th
Highest RWC Finish
Pools
1999

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 >>

RWC 2023 Qualifying