The next men's World Cup in Australia will feature six pools of four teams
World Rugby has confirmed Rugby World Cup 2027 in Australia will feature 24 teams split into six pools of four with a round of 16 added.
The ongoing Rugby World Cup in France included 20 teams across four pools of five. This weekend’s final will mark seven weeks of the tournament, the longest ever, but the Rugby World Cup expansion and addition of a new knockout round will return the competition – which many felt lost momentum midweek and during the middle of the tournament – to six weeks.
The World Cup’s window has also been pushed back further with the 2027 competition set to take place from 1 October to 13 November. This year’s World Cup began on 8 September and finishes on 28 October.
The top two in each pool will progress to the last 16 along with the four best third-place finishers, meaning only eight teams will be knocked out in the pool stage. The same six-day minimum rest between games that has been in force at France 2023 will continue.
World Rugby cited a desire “to increase the global competitiveness, reach, impact and value of international rugby” while “promoting a rhythm that builds momentum across the pool phase” as key factors behind the changes.
As well as green-lighting the Rugby World Cup expansion, the World Rugby Council also approved the governing body’s desire to hold the World Cup draw as late as possible after the France 2023 draw took place three years ahead of time and controversially saw the top five sides in the world all on the same side of the competition by the time the tournament started.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “If we are to become a truly global sport, we must create greater relevance, opportunity and competitiveness to attract new fans and grow value.
“This incredible Rugby World Cup 2023 tournament has demonstrated the passion and potential that lies beyond the top 10 or 12 nations, if we think big and think inclusive. It is not acceptable to accept the status quo. Not acceptable to do nothing.
“The decision to expand Rugby World Cup 2027 to 24 teams is logical and the right thing to do. Underpinned by a new global calendar that increases certainty and opportunity, we are focused on raising standards, closing the gaps and creating a spectacle that fans demand to see. With its love of sport and major events, Australia is the perfect place to do just that.”