World Rugby reveals 2023 World Cup qualification process

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World Rugby has revealed its qualification process for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, with the system designed to showcase some of the sport’s best teams whilst ‘promoting a genuine opportunity for all unions’. 

So far, 12 teams have already qualified for the tournament, including England, South Africa, Wales and Australia, with the remaining eight places to be decided through regional and cross-regional qualifiers. The events have yet to be given a confirmed date due to the ongoing global health pandemic, nevertheless, World Rugby’s new system has been designed to help mitigate the financial impact insured by organisers and teams. 

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont stated: “After a full review of performances at Rugby World Cup 2019 and close consultation with our regional associations and member unions, we are delighted to outline the details of the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification process, which will provide a genuine opportunity for full member unions to qualify for rugby’s showcase event.

“The process has been designed to maximise existing events to reduce costs for participants and organisers alike, which is important as we all recover from the global pandemic.”

The Americas will qualify two teams directly to the World Cup, whilst a third side will compete in a ‘Final Qualification’ tournament. Moreover, the current Rugby Europe Championship will include two qualification spots, with the continent’s third-best side also competing in the last chance event.

2022’s Rugby Africa Cup winner will also gain qualification to the World Cup, whilst a home and away play-off between Tonga and Samoa in 2021 will determine the first seed for the Oceania region. 

Oceania will have the chance to qualify two countries as the winner of a match-up between the Oceania Rugby Cup 2021 winner and the loser of Tonga or Samoa will face 2021’s Asian Rugby Men’s Championship victor for a spot in the World Cup. 

The competition’s final qualification tournament is scheduled to take place in November 2022, featuring four teams from Europe, the Americas, Africa and either Oceania or Asia.   The winner of the round-robin event will acquire the final qualification spot.

Teams already qualified for the Rugby World Cup include: South Africa, England, New Zealand, Wales, Japan, France, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina, Fiji.