World Rugby and the France 2023 Organising Committee have announced that the Palais Brongniart in Paris will host the Rugby World Cup 2023 Draw. The Draw will be pushed back from the previously announced date by two weeks to 14 December 2020 owing to the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on rugby and event hosting activities.
Built in 1908, the iconic Parisian venue will host the much-anticipated live event which will bring to life the tournament in the eyes of teams and fans alike. The draw will be streamed live for fans around the world via World Rugby’s digital channels.
Celebrating 200 years since the birth of the sport, Rugby World Cup 2023 will be contested by 20 teams, of which 12 are automatically qualified owing to a top-three place in their respective Rugby World Cup 2019 pools: champions South Africa, England, Wales, New Zealand, Japan, France, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina and Fiji.
As previously announced and in line with previous Rugby World Cups, the teams will be seeded based on World Rugby Rankings and positioned into three bands of four teams.
The remaining eight teams will come through the regional qualification process and will be allocated into bands four and five based on relative strength. They consist of Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2, Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia / Pacific 1 and the Final Qualifier Winner.
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 1 January 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.
The bands as of 1 January 2020 are:
- Band 1: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales
- Band 2: Ireland, Australia, France, Japan
- Band 3: Scotland, Argentina, Fiji, Italy
- Band 4: Oceania 1, Europe 1, Americas 1, Asia / Pacific 1
- Band 5: Africa 1, Europe 2, Americas 2, Final Qualifier Winner
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The Draw is a key milestone on the journey to Rugby World C
up France 2023 and the time when the tournament truly comes to life for teams and players alike, enabling key operational elements to be undertaken such as venue allocation, optimal match schedule development and, of course, the ticketing programme.
“While 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.
“The RWC 2023 Draw will be a greatly anticipated beacon of hope and excitement as we look towards France 2023 and beyond the global pandemic.”
Rugby World Cup France 2023 General Manager Claude Atcher said: “As promised, the Rugby World Cup 2023 Draw will be organised as scheduled, which is great for teams and fans. Its organisation as planned is testimony to the hard work of everyone involved at the organising committee during the pandemic and will shine as a positive, shining light of confidence, hope and excitement. The Draw will give certainty to qualified teams, allowing them to prepare in the best possible conditions.”
Building on the record-breaking success of Japan 2019, Rugby World Cup France 2023 aims to a be a spectacular event and the most impactful Rugby World Cup ever. The tournament will set new standards in social responsibility, inclusion and sustainability for a major rugby event, leaving a tangible legacy that benefits local communities within the host country and around the world.
Meanwhile, the Rugby World Cup Board has recommended that the draw for future Rugby World Cups should take place no earlier than one year proceeding the event to ensure the pools better reflect performance at the time.
The RWC Board determined that the rankings to determine seedings was best taken after Rugby World Cup 2019 as it was the fairest and most transparent option. With significant disruption to the international calendar in 2020 and Japan not having the ability to play, it was the least-worst option. This was also independently verified by Onside Law and Deloitte, who have significant draw experience.
Delaying the draw was not an option as it could only realistically be taken after The Rugby Championship in 2021 for fairness reasons, which would have a significant impact on tournament preparations, delaying the match schedule, venue allocation and ticketing programme launch.
The timing of the Rugby World Cup Draw was announced on 30 January following RWCL Board, World Rugby Executive Committee and World Rugby Council approval.