Deciding pools for the next World Cup so early winds up reader Adam McKenzie. This Rant first appeared in Rugby World magazine in March
Rugby Rant: RWC 2023 Pool Draw
THE DRAW for the 2023 World Cup takes place after this year’s November Tests. Not since RWC 2003 has the draw been conducted closer in time to the actual tournament it’s for. And there seems to be no reasonable thought behind this.
We’re back to a 30-plus month wait between the draw in December and kick-off in the autumn of 2023, and no doubt we’ll be told it’s down to planning and preparation – something no other worldwide sports organisation manages to struggle with over a shorter period.
World Rugby would like us to believe that arranging a few hotels in France is comparable to trekking through the Andes without a compass, even though UEFA managed to do it for a 24-team, four-week European Championship in the same country (France) back in 2016.
On the subject of planning and preparation, after the typhoon debacle in Japan, is there any faith these extra months are actually being utilised correctly? Or will crunch decisions be made 24 hours out, much like they were when Hagibis struck in 2019?
More importantly, it’s a complete hypocrisy on the importance of player welfare that’s trotted out by the global governing body on a regular basis.
Related: How France won the RWC 2023 vote
Teams are unable to ‘rest and recover’ in the year following a World Cup, in a season that’s already condensed because of the sport’s showpiece. A titanic battle to make it into the top-four seeding bracket is now on, starting with the current Six Nations. Everyone is keen to avoid the ‘Pool of Death’, something akin to the one that scuppered England back in 2015.
Would Wales have planned a Test series in New Zealand this summer if they had known? Will England pick up enough World Ranking points by only playing Japan in July? What hope for the poor Tier Two teams who are having to make do playing against franchises and A teams this summer?
Japan put their victory over Ireland a few months back down to the fact they had over two years to plan for it. On the other hand, Ireland spent those two years focusing on becoming number one in the world, not considering the Brave Blossoms until they’d dealt with Scotland in their World Cup opener. But do we really want the romance of rugby to be stifled by allowing so much time for analysis?
And finally, does anyone actually need three years to snap up tickets?
This Rant first appeared in Rugby World magazine in March.
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