World Rugby have announced that the draw for the pool stage of the 2023 World Cup will take place after the November internationals this year.
The draw will be based on the world rankings after the weekend of the 21-22 November, almost three years before the tournament begins in France.
Last time there was a pool draw, there was an 18-month gap between the 2015 World Cup final and the draw for the 2019 World Cup which was held in Kyoto in May 2017.
But this latest window for countries to improve their post-RWC results has now been reduced by six months – and it has proven to be unpopular. By comparison, the football World Cup’s draw is usually made six months before the tournament starts.
While the qualification process is different between the two sports, a huge amount can change over the three years prior to the World Cup.
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As it stands, band one consists of South Africa, New Zealand, England and Wales, band two is Ireland, Australia, France and Japan, and band three is Scotland, Argentina, Fiji, Italy.
However, Ireland, Australia and France all have new coaches and could experience some radical improvements in the coming years. Meanwhile, eight teams still have not even qualified for the tournament.
RWC Pool Draw three years out from the tournament yet again. Will they ever learn? ????? https://t.co/TpuBUYAkSQ
— Huw Stark (@starky88) January 29, 2020
Entrenched views from what is increasingly becoming a global elite running a sport and detached from the roots! Shades of FIFA comes to kind…… Rugby deserves better!!
— david (@djbshearer) January 29, 2020
A young France team are particularly tipped to rise over the next few years, but their seeding at the World Cup will effectively be determined by their performances before 2019 – albeit they still have a lot of rugby to play this year to potentially climb up the rankings.
But for a team to have so much potential come 2023, there should not be as much of a priority to instantly achieve success in 2020 as there is for them and many other teams.
Ridiculous to do the draw so early. Could be done 6 months before and still leave more than enough time for fans to plan their travel.
— james primavesi (@jamesprimavesi) January 29, 2020
It must be a worldwide novelty to announce the draw before even knowing how 8 teams will qualify.
— Pedro Delgado (@oseznorugby) January 29, 2020
The major disadvantage for the northern hemisphere teams is that their ranking can be significantly skewed after their summer series.
Wales travel to New Zealand in July 2020, while Scotland face the Springboks in what will be tough fixtures to climb up the rankings. The teams that have slightly easier tours may not suffer as much damage with their ranking, or even could improve.
Pressure on results has just ratcheted up a notch https://t.co/Hncx0tseMB
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 29, 2020
The flaw with this pool draw system was most clearly shown in the 2015 RWC where Pool A contained the second, third and fourth best teams in the world, Australia, England and Wales, as their rankings were obviously different three years before, with Wales ranked ninth in the world at the end of 2012.
Although this may only happen once every four years, it has major ramifications. It is something that much of the rugby world wants to see changed.
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