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‘Focused on raising standards’: Rugby World Cup 2027 expands to 24 teams

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images for England Rugby 2015)

In four years’ time, more nations than ever before will compete for the right to hoist the Webb Ellis Cup with World Cup confirming a four-team expansion for the 2027 men’s Rugby World Cup in Australia.

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In an effort to increase “the competitiveness of the global game,” the next men’s World Cup will feature 24 teams spread out across six pools of four.

There will be a round of 16 before the quarter-finals as part of the “biggest revamp since the competition was introduced in 1987.”

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The World Rugby Council has approved the historic change which looks to provide unions and both domestic and international competitions “with greater opportunity and certainty.”

“If we are to become a truly global sport, we must create greater relevance, opportunity and competitiveness to attract new fans and grow value,” World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said in a statement.

“This incredible Rugby World Cup 2023 tournament has demonstrated the passion and potential that lies beyond the top 10 or 12 nations, if we think big and think inclusive. It is not acceptable to accept the status quo. Not acceptable to do nothing.

“The decision to expand Rugby World Cup 2027 to 24 teams is logical and the right thing to do. Underpinned by a new global calendar that increases certainty and opportunity, we are focused on raising standards, closing the gaps and creating a spectacle that fans demand to see. With its love of sport and major events, Australia is the perfect place to do just that.”

Knockout

New Zealand
South Africa
11 - 12
Final
Argentina
New Zealand
6 - 44
SF1
England
South Africa
15 - 16
SF2
Wales
Argentina
17 - 29
QF1
Ireland
New Zealand
24 - 28
QF2
England
Fiji
30 - 24
QF3
France
South Africa
28 - 29
QF4

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The top two teams from each pool will automatically qualify for the round of 16 along with the best fourth-placed teams.

Rugby World Cup 2027 will be run over seven weekends while the pool phase has been reduced to just four weeks.

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin echoed Beaumont’s comments, saying it “is a huge step forward for the game.”

“Today’s decision is the culmination of a process that began in May 2022 with a new Rugby World Cup hosting model, greater collaboration on reform of the international calendar and recognition that the sport needed to evolve,” Gilpin said.

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“A reduced pool phase with a more regular cadence of matches and the introduction of a round of 16 makes for a compelling and competitive pool phase where every match counts. To be able to achieve this new format in a reduced window while preserving important player welfare considerations is a huge step forward for the game and great for fans and players.”

RWC 2027 at a glance

  • Rugby World Cup 2027 will be hosted between 1 October and 13 November.
  • The tournament will be expanded from 20 to 24 teams.
  • New reduced six-week (seven-weekend) Rugby World Cup window approved, supporting welfare, entertainment and value imperatives – pool phase reduced from five to four weeks.
  • Round of 16 to be introduced with top two teams from each pool automatically qualifying along with the best four third-placed teams.
  • Decision provides certainty for all stakeholders and maintains Rugby World Cup’s position as the jewel in the crown of the international calendar.
  • Details of the qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2027 will be determined following a full review of France 2023 and consultation with unions and regions.

– “RWC 2027 at a glance” from World Rugby press release

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Comments

45 Comments
A
APG 255 days ago

4 best 3rd place teams in a group of 4!!! so you can win 1 game out of 3 and still make the knockout stage, thats a joke! Im actually all for expanding the number of teams, but not like this.

N
Nick 261 days ago

This is putting lipstick on a pig…. the gap in the standard of the rest of the world as compared to the top countries will NEVER be closed whatever those “suits” say. The second XV of the top countries would beat the other competing countries - to just be honest. Too much competition in other sports, not enough money for the players.

Advice to those “suits” of World Rugby… Use the KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid….

Four pools, of five teams….. top two teams go into the Tier 1 play offs. Third and fourth teams go into a Tier 2 play offs. The fifth team in the groups - go home no play offs.

In this way spectators are more likely to see two sets of play offs between teams of similar ability. It would hold the crowds in the venue of the country in which the RWC is being played.

The RWC Board should continue to provide extra $$$$ to countries to be able to attract top class coaches to be hired and employed by countries competing for places in the next upcoming RWC.

Just adding “more countries” will not improve the standard of rugby throughout the world. Such a move will only reward the “also rans,” and follow the idiom that “everyone should get a medal for trying” mentality.

World Rugby- get real and recognise that Rugby Union is a minor sport in the World and the exposure of the RWC every four years is all the sporting public can take. 🏉😏

M
Michael 262 days ago

This decision is purely commercial, without properly raising rugby standards across the board. Countries qualifying will raise some interest in those countries. Competitiveness is the real issue to make it viable. USA, have about 4 million people interested in rugby out of a population of 320 million. Plus there’s loads of eligible players in Ireland and i’d say the UK. With the right coaches they can improve, but right now their poorly managed.

N
Nico 262 days ago

An expanded RWC is just daft. With the exception of some of the top tier teams, there is already way too much cannon fodder. Results of 100-0 are of zero value, except at the turnstiles (maybe).

M
Mark 262 days ago

One of the worst pieces ive read is the world cup in USA in 2031, sweet christ why on earth qould ypu put it there, shite team and the cpuntry have no interest in rugby ands makes it harder amd more expensive for all tye actual fans to go..also can you imagine how cringy they will make it 🥱. Also il eemain skeptical about ne r worls cups draws how they though it was okay to stick all the teir 1 teams into 2 groups and the teir 2s in the others is beyond me. Common sense left the room that day. Argentina and england should have never got a sniff of a semi final.

F
Flankly 262 days ago

One too many G&Ts in the meeting where this was decided:

“The top two teams from each pool will automatically qualify for the round of 16 along with the best fourth-placed teams.”

It will be tricky to avoid being in third place, while aiming to be one of the best placed fourth placed teams.

M
Michael 262 days ago

And that’s not even including what needs to be done at a club level. Don't get me started.

Old fossils running the game.

Expanding will bring in more money, that’s what they really want. And to protect old traditions.

But hey let’s wait and see.

M
Michael 262 days ago

2023, Review. post world cup.What rugby needs to do to expand its global appeal, and interest..
New tournaments
ATLANTIC SHIELD.…….
IRELAND WOLFHOUNDS
SCOTLAND BRAVEHEARTS
CANADA
NAMIBIA
PORTUGAL
SPAIN
ARGENTINA A OR BRAZIL
ENGLAND LIONS OR EMERGING SPRINGBOKS
NATIONS CUP………
ROMANIA
GEORGIA
HONK KONG- CHINA
EMERGING ITALY
FRENCH BARBARIANS
KENYA OR ZIMBABWE OR WALES A
ARGENTINA A OR BRAZIL
ENGLAND LIONS OR EMERGING SPRINGBOKS
CONTINENTAL CUP……
JAPAN
TONGA
SAMOA
USA
CHILE
URUGUAY
AUSTRALIA- PACIFIC
NEW ZEALAND MAORI OR ALL BLACKS 15
All the above played in 2 groups of 4. With 1,2,3,4- to play each other in each group in finals.
FIJI join Rugby championship. + continue in Pacific nations Cup.
Also continue with regional competitions, ie; Rugby championships, Pacific nations Cup, America six nations, six nations. European nations Cup. Africa Cup.
Plus
Another six emerging countries not included in these comps, for a separate competition. RUGBY GLOBAL CHALLENGE Trophy.
U20 competitions in each region to be played in conjunction with each regional senior competition..
Expand World u20 championships
Expand World u20 Trophy competition.
If world rugby can manage to do this with union cooperation, then you can expand world Cup to 24 teams.
Plus..more tier 2 nations playing tier 1SHOW LESS
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B
Bob Marler 262 days ago

I saw this coming.

Now can we make sure that the top four teams aren’t all in Pool A?

j
jncskei@gmail.com 262 days ago

That’s Music to my ears the more the better

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