The latest reports out of France suggest that the draw for the 2023 World Cup won’t be delayed despite the significant disruption to the 2020 rugby calendar due to coronavirus, which could throw up some major challenges for the likes of Scotland and Argentina.
In an interview with French paper L’Équipe, Claude Atcher, the Head of Rugby World Cup France 2023, confirmed that the draw would not be postponed from the planned November 30 date.
The only stipulation Atcher made was that the movements in the rankings due to the already played Six Nations matches won’t be taken into consideration unless the remaining matches from the competition are played, which would mean the draw would be based on the rankings upon the conclusion of last year’s World Cup in Japan.
That would be disappointing news for the likes of Scotland and Argentina, who were ranked 9th and 10th at the end of the World Cup.
Both sides would be forced into a pool with two teams ranked inside the top eight, which would increase the chances of the two sides failing to progress to the knockout rounds of the competition for the second tournament in a row.
Currently, Scotland have climbed to 8th in the world on the back of their impressive run in the Six Nations which has seen them secure victories against France and Italy as well as coming within one score of both England and Ireland.
Outside of the Six Nations, where they have one game remaining against Wales, Scotland have a tough run of scheduled games in 2020, including two matches against the world champion Springboks (both in South Africa), two against the All Blacks (one in New Zealand) and two fixtures at Murrayfield against Japan and Argentina.
'Why is a very good question'
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The challenges aren’t any easier for Scotland’s rivals for a spot in the top eight, however, with Argentina hosting France and Italy, playing in the Rugby Championship and then travelling to Scotland, England and Wales at the end of the year.
Japan, meanwhile, will host England and Wales in July and New Zealand in November, then travel to Scotland and Ireland later in the year.
Seeding based on rankings after World Cup:
Band 1 teams: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales
Band 2 teams: Ireland, Australia, France, Japan
Band 3 teams: Scotland, Argentina, Fiji, Italy
Band 4 teams: Africa 1, Europe 1, Oceania 1, Americas 1
Band 5 teams: Oceania 2, Americas 2, Repechage 1, Repechage 2
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