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Rugby World Cup 2023 draw, pools, qualification, fixtures

The 2019 World Cup winners. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

The 2023 Rugby World Cup will be held in France in nine different host cities. The fixtures for the tournament will be revealed in the first half of 2021, but the pool draw has already been made.

Australia were drawn alongside Wales and Fiji for the third time in as many tournaments, while Pool A will feature two of the favourites in hosts France and perennial contenders New Zealand. Italy have also been cast into Pool A.

Defending champions South Africa are in Pool B with Ireland and Scotland, and England join Argentina and Japan in Pool D.

Pool A Pool B Pool C Pool D
New Zealand South Africa Wales England
France Ireland Australia Japan
Italy Scotland Fiji Argentina
Americas 1 Asia/Pacific 1 Europe 1 Oceania 1
Africa 1 Europe 2 Final qualifier winner Americas 2

Qualification

There are eight further unseeded teams from various regions who are still to qualify for the tournament, bringing the total number of contestants to 20.

The twelve already-named sides automatically qualified for the 2023 World Cup as a result of finishing in the top three in their groups in the 2019 tournament. They were split into three bands based on their rankings as of January 1, 2020, to be distributed evenly across the pools in 2023:

Band 1: New Zealand, England, Australia and Ireland
Band 2: Scotland, France, South Africa and Wales
Band 3: Argentina, Japan, Georgia, Italy

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The remaining eight teams will be determined through a complex series of qualification matches.

Band 4: Americas 1, Asia/Pacific 1, Europe 1, Oceania 1
Band 5: Africa 1, Europe 2, final qualifier winner, Americas 2

While the dates for these regional qualifiers are yet to be set, the format for each of them is as follows:

Europe 1 and 2
The European qualification spots are quite straightforward. The winner of the 2021-22 Rugby Europe Championship earns a spot at the 2023 World Cup as Europe 1, which will see them placed in Pool C, while the runner up qualifies as Europe 2 and joins Pool B. The third-placed side in the championship will get another shot at qualification with a place in the Final Qualification Tournament.

Americas 1 and 2
North and South America have a combined two guaranteed places at the 2023 World Cup. Americas 1 will be decided in a two-legged playoff between the Rugby Americas North 2021 winner and the Sudamerica Rugby 2021 champion. The winner on aggregate will qualify and join Pool A.

The loser of that match will enter the Americas 2 playoff, which will be played against the winner of a playoff between the 2021 Rugby Americas North and Sudamerica Rugby runners-up. The winner over the two legs of the Americas 2 playoff will join Pool D, while the loser gets a place in the Final Qualification Tournament.

Oceania 1
The Oceania 1 qualifier will be decided in a straight head-to-head playoff between Samoa and Tonga. The match will be played over two legs, home and away, with the winner on aggregate qualifying as Oceania 1 and joining Pool D. The loser will have another chance to qualify for France 2023 as Asia/Pacific 1.

Asia/Pacific 1
The Asia-Pacific qualifier will be decided by another head-to-head playoff, this time between the loser of the Oceania qualifier and the winner of the 2021 Asia Rugby Championship. Again, it will be held over two home-and-away legs, with the winner on aggregate qualifying as Asia/Pacific 1 and joining Pool B. The loser will have another chance to qualify through the Final Qualification Tournament.

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Africa 1
The Africa 1 qualifier will be the winner of the 2022 Rugby Africa Cup, which has often been Namibia. Africa 1 will join the World Cup in Pool A. The runner-up of the tournament will earn a place in the Final Qualification Tournament, so still have a chance to make France 2023.

Final qualifier winner
The four sides who earned a place at the Final Qualification Tournament will play off in a round-robin format for the final place at the 2023 World Cup. The tournament will be played in November 2022, with the winner to qualify for France in Pool C.

Full Rugby World Cup fixtures

The fixtures for the 2023 Rugby World Cup are yet to be announced. They are set to be confirmed some time in the first half of 2021. We’ll have this page updated as soon as they’re revealed.

We do know the knockout format will be the same as in previous years, with pool winners facing runners-up in the quarter-finals and not able to face an opponent from their own group until the final.

World Cup knockout stage bracket

Quarter-final 1 Quarter-final 2
Winner Pool C Runner-up Pool D Winner Pool B Runner-up Pool A
Semi-final 1
Winner QF 1 Winner QF 2
Final
Winner SF 1 Winner SF 2
Semi-final 2
Winner QF 3 Winner QF 4
Quarter-final 3 Quarter-final 4
Winner Pool D Runner-up Pool C Winner Pool A Runner-up Pool B

Broadcast guide

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The 2023 World Cup broadcast details for Australia are yet to be confirmed, although after the Nine Network and their streaming service Stan picked up the rights to Super Rugby, the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship, it is likely that organisation will be the broadcaster for the World Cup. We’ll have the proper details once they’re confirmed.

Venues

There are nine venues in France that will play host to World Cup matches in 2023, down from the 12 that were initially announced. Paris’s Stade de France is set to host both the tournament opener and the final ranging from the Stade Velodrome in the south of the country to Kumamoto Stadium in the south-west.

The complete list of stadiums is as follows:

  • Stade de France, Paris
  • Stade Velodrome, Marseille
  • Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon
  • Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille
  • Matmut Atlantique, Bordeaux
  • Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne
  • Allianz Riviera, Nice
  • Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes
  • Stadium Municipal, Toulouse

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