The draw for the 2023 tournament took place in December 2020
The 2023 World Cup pools were confirmed in a draw which took place in December 2020. The order in which the countries were drawn were based on their world ranking.
In that time the rankings have changed significantly which has sparked many fans and pundits to point out World Rugby should do the draw closer to the tournament.
Read more: Rugby World Cup pools
With that in mind, here at Rugby World we thought we would do our own draw to see what impact the different rankings could have on the pools.
The draw put the 12 qualified teams into bands based on their ranking. Band 1 had the four highest ranked sides, band 2 the next four and band three the final four.
Related: Rugby Fixtures
Here’s how the bands looked for the draw in 2020:
- Band 1 – South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales
- Band 2 – Ireland, France, Australia, Japan
- Band 3 – Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy
And here are how the bands would look now if the draw were to take place:
- Band 1 – Ireland, France, New Zealand, South Africa
- Band 2 – Scotland, England, Australia, Argentina
- Band 3 – Wales, Japan, Italy, Fiji
As fans know this is how the 2020 draw turned out:
- Pool A – New Zealand, France, Italy, Uruguay, Namibia
- Pool B – South Africa, Ireland, Scotland, Tonga, Romania
- Pool C – Wales, Australia, Fiji, Georgia, Portugal
- Pool D – England, Japan, Argentina, Samoa, Chile
And with the current world rankings, you have the following in each Pool…
A: 3, 2, 12
B: 4, 1, 5
C: 9, 7, 14
D: 6, 8, 10
Therefore, it’s no surprise that Pool B is being talked up as the pool of death as currently there are three of the world’s top five sides in the same pool, with only two able to progress to the quarter-finals.
World Cup pools: What could they look like if drawn today?
But this is how it could have looked if the draw was done today (generated by us):
- Pool A – France, England, Japan, Uruguay, Namibia
- Pool B – Ireland, Australia, Italy, Tonga, Romania
- Pool C – South Africa, Argentina, Fiji, Georgia, Portugal
- Pool D – New Zealand, Scotland, Wales, Samoa, Chile
Split into world rankings, it seems to be a fairer and much more representative split that looks like:
A: 2, 6, 10
B: 1, 7, 12
C: 4, 8, 14
D: 3, 5, 9
From our generated draw, England could be feeling relieved the draw took place in 2020. They are more likely to top their group as things actually stand but in our generated draw they would have to face hosts France.
Scotland, on the other hand, could feel a bit hard done by that the draw happened in 2020. After their win over England in the 2023 Six Nations they rose to fifth in the rankings which puts them in a different band. Our generated draw places them in a tough group with New Zealand and Wales but gives them a fighting chance.
In the actual pools for the World Cup, Scotland have to face the defending champions South Africa and world number one side Ireland.
And those are just two examples of how different the draw could have been.
World Cup pools: What are people saying?
It seems logical for the draw to take place closer to the tournament date if the draw is based on rankings. Fans and pundits agree and many have taken to social media.
One fan said: “This is why you don’t do a draw almost three years before the start of the tournament. Scotland totally screwed by this. Plus, two of the world’s top four teams cannot make the semi-finals. Farcical.”
Journalist Michael Cantillon said: “Three of rugby’s current top five now within one World Cup pool, and all of the top five on the same side of the draw, meaning three will be gone by semi-finals. All because World Rugby insist on doing the pool draw nearly 1000 days before the tournament, even football do that better.”
And another supporter said: “Once again, highlighting how ridiculous it is that @WorldRugby insists on doing the World Cup draw three years before the tournament.”
Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.
Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.