They are using 2019 rankings to decide the seeds
Organisers have anounced that the draw for Rugby World Cup 2023 in France will take place in Paris on 14 December. Three years out from the event, they will use seedings based on the world rankings immediately after last year’s tournament, rather than the current standing, due to the impact of Covid-19.
The rankings for the draw mean that South Africa, New Zealand, England and Wales are the top band. Ireland, Australia, France, and Japan are in Band Two, with Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy in Band Three. Bands Four and Five consist of qualifiers.
It is a relief for Wales who had slipped to sixth in the current World Rankings, but are back up to fourth for the draw – meaning they are a top seed. Scotland, meanwhile, have dropped back to ninth for the draw, despite being eighth in the current list – they are in the third seeding, while Japan (ranked ninth in the world right now) are a second seed.
With three years to go still, World Rugby say they have recognised the potential for major swings in form and personnel over such a long period, and their Board have now recommended that the draw for future tournaments should take place no earlier than one year before the event.
World Rugby stated: “Acknowledging the global Covid-19 impact on international rugby in 2020, with some teams not playing this year, and to be fair to all qualified teams, the Rugby World Cup board has decided that the World Rugby rankings as of January 1, 2020, will be used to determine the five bands. This represents the fairest scenario given it was the last time that all teams were able to play.”
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont also said: “Covid-19 means that, in the interests of fairness for all qualified teams, we have needed to draw a line under the rankings at the beginning of the year, everyone should appreciate that this is a unique time, we can’t delay, and we must continue to accelerate planning for what is going to be a truly spectacular and special Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.”
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