World Rugby have reduced the window teams have to get themselves into as good a band as possible ahead of the pool draw for the 2023 World Cup in France.

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Last time, 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. 

That window to improve results has now been reduced by six months as 2023 organisers will hold the pool draw for the next tournament this November in Paris – just twelve months after last November’s final in Yokohama which was won by South Africa against England.

This reduction means, for instance, that the Six Nations countries will have only one edition of that tournament to try and improve their ranking on this occasion, unlike two Six Nations (2016 and 2017) the last time around before the balls were drawn out.

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Twelve of the 20 teams that took part in Japan 2019 are already automatically qualified for the 2023 finals and while the window for moving up or down won’t shut until after the November series of Test fixtures, their current end-of-January rankings would see them divided into the following three bands:

  • Band 1: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales;
  • Band 2: Ireland, Australia, France, Japan;
  • Band 3: Scotland, Argentina, Fiji, Italy.  

The remaining eight teams will come through the global qualification process, which kicks off later this year. Those qualifiers will be allocated into bands four and five based on their relative strength.

World Rugby boss Bill Beaumont said: “The pool draw is an important milestone on the road to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France as it really drives excitement and momentum both in the host nation and throughout the global rugby family – it is the moment teams and fans can start to plan.

“With the World Rugby rankings determining the bands for the RWC 2023 pool draw, it promises to be a fascinating year of men’s international rugby with every match counting towards seeding at the end of the November Test series.”

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