World Rugby have released details of the qualification process for the 2023 Rugby World Cup. With 12 teams already qualified for the tournament, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers. The process will conclude with a four team round-robin qualification tournament in November 2022.
Twelve teams have already qualified for France 2023, namely: South Africa, England, New Zealand, Wales, Japan, France, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina and Fiji. Those teams secured their place courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools at last year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
World Rugby have been in consultation with unions and regions following RWC 2019, and also undertook a full review of performance at the tournament before finalising the qualification process.
The Americas will qualify two teams for RWC 2023 by September 2022. The third best team in the region will enter the final qualification tournament.
The existing Rugby Europe Championship will have two qualifying places, with the two best teams in March 2022 qualifying directly and the third placed entering the final qualification tournament.
The Rugby Africa Cup 2022 winner will qualify directly and the runner-up team will go to final qualification.
A home and away play-off between Tonga and Samoa in 2021 will determine the direct qualifier for the Oceania region. The loser will then play the Oceania Rugby Cup 2021 winner in the highest ranked team’s country with the eventual winner contesting Asia/Pacific as ‘Oceania 2’.
The winner of the Asian Rugby Men’s Championship 2021 will play ‘Oceania 2’ home and away. The winner on aggregate will determine the qualifier and the loser will go to final qualification.
The final qualification tournament in November 2022 will feature four teams playing in a round-robin format with the winner qualifying for RWC 2023.
Final details of the regional competition formats and dates will be confirmed at a later date.
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “With the global pandemic having halted most rugby activity, confirmation of the global qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023 provides a beacon of excitement for all, including players and fans.
“The process that has been developed via full consultation with our regional associations and member unions will provide a genuine opportunity for full member unions to qualify for our showcase men’s 15s event.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 8, 2020
“Maximising existing regional competitions, the process is good for regions and unions in managing costs for organisers and participants alike, which is important as we all recover from the global pandemic.
“On behalf of World Rugby, I’d like to wish all teams involved the best of luck on their journey to France 2023.”
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) June 8, 2020
Rugby World Cup France 2023 CEO Claude Atcher added: “This qualification process gives emerging unions an opportunity to take part in our sport’s biggest competition.
“The success of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and performances by the host nation is a testimony of rugby’s expansion globally.
“As the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is about to be won, I welcome this optimistic prospect of reconnecting with the excitement of our sport.
“This is the start of our journey towards France 2023, which will be the best tournament ever delivered.”
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