Celebrating 200 years since the birth of the sport, France 2023 will feature 20 teams, of which 12 are automatically qualified owing to a top-three ranking in their respective Rugby World Cup 2019 pools: champions South Africa, England, Wales, New Zealand, Japan, France, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina and Fiji.
As with previous Rugby World Cups, automatically qualified teams will be seeded based on the World Rugby Rankings after the November international test window (21-22 November) and positioned into three bands of four teams.
For example, the three bands as of January 29 would be:
- Band 1: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales
- Band 2: Ireland, Australia, France, Japan
- Band 3: Scotland, Argentina, Fiji, Italy
The remaining eight teams will come through the global qualification process, which kicks off later this year and will be allocated into bands four and five based on relative strength.
With France at the centre of the sporting universe in 2023 and 2024, the early draw timing enables the France 2023 organising committee to optimise ticket sales ahead of Olympic Games’ tickets going on sale. Tickets for Rugby World Cup 2023 will be available from early 2021.
The draw timing also enables an exciting match schedule with teams and fans at heart to be developed that optimises rest periods, travel and broadcast, while maximising planning and preparation.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The pool draw is an important milestone on the road to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France as it really drives excitement and momentum both in the host nation and throughout the global rugby family – it is the moment teams and fans can start to plan.
“With the World Rugby Rankings determining the bands for the RWC 2023 pool draw, it promises to be a fascinating year of men’s international rugby with every match counting towards seeding at the end of the November test series, which is exciting for fans.
“With planning and preparation for France 2023 gathering momentum, Paris will provide the perfect setting for what promises to be a fascinating Rugby World Cup 2023 pool draw.”
The location and date for the pool draw will be announced shortly.