World Rugby has announced details of the qualification process of the forthcoming Rugby World Cup in 2023 set to be hosted in France.
The qualification process will give full members a genuine opportunity to qualify for the globa event according to World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont.
The (qualification) process has been developed via full consultation with our regional associations and will provide a genuine opportunity for full member unions to qualify for our showcase men’s 15s event.Bill Beaumont, World Rugby Chairman
He added that the process will be good for regions and unions in managing costs for organizers and participants alike, which is important as everybody recovers from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools at the previous edition in Japan 2019, twelve teams have already secured qualification for the 2023 event in France. These are South Africa (2019 Champions), England, New Zealand, Wales, Japan, France (Hosts), Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina and Fiji.
A process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers will determine the remaining eight places, concluding with a four-team round-robin Final Qualification Tournament in November 2022.
The African region will deliver one direct qualification place to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France. This will be the winner of the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 tournament with the runner-up proceeding to the Final Qualification Tournament.
Qualification details of other regions presented by World Rugby are as shown below:
- Americas: Two teams by September 2022. The third-best team in the region will enter the Final Qualification Tournament.
- Europe: Two direct qualifying places for the two best teams from Rugby Europe Championship in March 2022. The third-placed team will enter the Final Qualification Tournament.
- Oceania: A home and away play-off between Tonga and Samoa in 2021 will determine the direct qualifier for the Oceania region. The loser will then play the Oceania Rugby Cup 2021 winner in the highest-ranked team’s country with the eventual winner contesting Asia/Pacific (see below) as Oceania 2.
- Asia/Pacific: The winner of the Asian Rugby Men’s Championship 2021 will play Oceania 2 home and away. The winner on aggregate will determine the qualifier and the loser will go to Final Qualification.
- Final Qualification Tournament: The tournament will feature four teams playing in a round-robin format with the winner qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.
According to Claude Atcher, the CEO of Rugby World Cup France 2023, “the qualification process gives emerging unions an opportunity to take part in the sport’s biggest competition” by strengthening the already existing regional competitions like the Rugby Africa Cup in which Uganda Rugby Cranes compete.