World Rugby has announced that the Rugby World Cup 2023 draw will take place in Paris at Palais Brongniart on 14 December.
The draw will be pushed back from the previously announced date by two weeks to 14 December owing to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on rugby and event-hosting activities.
World Rugby will use seedings based on the world rankings immediately after the 2019 tournament, rather than the current standings due to the impact of Covid-19.
As previously announced and in line with previous Rugby World Cups, the teams will be seeded based on World Rugby rankings and positioned into three bands of four teams.
The rankings for the draw mean that South Africa, New Zealand, England and Wales are the top band. Ireland, Australia, France and Japan are in band two, with Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy in band three. Bands four and five consist of qualifiers.
The remaining eight teams will come through the regional qualification process and be allocated into bands four and five based on relative strength. They consist of Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2, Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia/Pacific 1 and the final qualifier winner.
The official statement from World Rugby read: ‘Acknowledging the global Covid-19 impact on international rugby in 2020, with some teams not playing this year and to be fair to all qualified teams, the Rugby World Cup board has decided that the World Rugby rankings as of January 1, 2020 will be used to determine the five bands. This represents the fairest scenario given it was the last time that all teams were able to play.
‘The decision to use the rankings to determine seedings was best taken after Rugby World Cup 2019 as it was the fairest and most transparent option. With significant disruption to the international calendar in 2020 and Japan not having the ability to play, it was the least-worst option.
‘Delaying the draw was not an option as it could only realistically be taken after The Rugby Championship in 2021 for fairness reasons, which would have a significant impact on tournament preparations, delaying the match schedule, venue allocation and ticketing programme launch.’
Bands as of 1 January 2020:
- 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.
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