World Rugby Admit World Cup Draw Error

The cat is at last out of the bag. After repeated World Cup cycles wherein the early draw brings unbalanced pools, World Rugby have admitted the error. Writing for The Mirror, Alex Spink writes that World Rugby are to delay the draw for future Rugby World Cups.

The draw for Rugby World Cup 2023 took place in December 2020. The twelve automatic qualifiers (out of 20 participants) from  Rugby World Cup 2023 were seeded into Bands 1, 2 and 3. Seeding was based on World Rankings at that time. The eight other spots were draws into Bands 4 and 5.

New Zealand South Africa Wales England
France Ireland Australia Argentina
Italy Scotland Fiji Japan
Uruguay Tonga Georgia Samoa
Namibia Romania Portugal Chile

As pictured above, the pools for Rugby World Cup 2023 have the participants distributed evenly based on rankings from December 2020. The rankings today are very different. Part of the criticism to the pools is that today’s top 5 ranked teams are in Pool A and Pool B. This means that three of them cannot reach the Semi Finals.

The present World Rankings see the Pool C number 1 seed ranked 10th in the world while the Pool B number 3 seed is ranked 5th in the world. Pool C has South Africa (4th), Ireland (1st) and Scotland (5th). It is impossible for all three to reach the Quarter Finals.

The following table demonstrates what the pools would be if the draw for Rugby World Cup 2023 were to take place today. It organizes the Bands 1, 2 and 3 according to contemporary World Rankings. Teams have been swapped accordingly.

France Ireland South Africa New Zealand
Argentina England Australia Scotland
Fiji Japan Wales Italy
Uruguay Tonga Georgia Samoa
Namibia Romania Portugal Chile

The table demonstrates a fairer distribution of teams based on current rankings and on results from the past year of international activities. Scotland would face New Zealand and Italy in their group rather than South Africa and Ireland. Wales would have South Africa and Australia rather than Australia and Fiji.

The draw for Rugby World Cup 2027 will not take place in 2024. While it is not yet known when the draw will in fact take place, the draw will be closer to 2027 than to 2023. Spink notes that World Rugby intends for the draw to be held closer to future Rugby World Cups.

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