The Rugby World Cup disaster waiting to happen

OPINION: World Rugby have continued their clumsy governance, announcing a Rugby World Cup draw to be held almost three years out from the 2023 tournament in France.

In their wisdom, they have decided to make the draw in November and the ramifications are huge.

The pressure is instantly on All Blacks coach Ian Foster to keep the All Blacks in the top mix – they are currently No 2 to world champions South Africa – while Dave Rennie needs to make quick gains with the Wallabies who are No 6.

The All Blacks have plenty to play for in 2020 ahead of a ridiculously early 2023 Rugby World Cup draw.


The All Blacks have plenty to play for in 2020 ahead of a ridiculously early 2023 Rugby World Cup draw.

There is every prospect of another lopsided draw as happened for England 2015 when one pool ended up containing  the second, third and fourth best teams in the world – Australia, England and Wales – with their rankings changing dramatically after the initial draw that had Wales at No 9.

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The draw for France is being made virtually 12 months after the last World Cup played out in Japan. That’s six months earlier than the previous cycle and it’s ridiculous.

World champions South Africa can't afford to drop their guard in 2020.


World champions South Africa can’t afford to drop their guard in 2020.

So much can change over the following three years.

There will be the usual excuse of the logistics involved but that doesn’t stack up.

Rugby should take a leaf from football with the FIFA World Cup draw which is often held only six months out from the tournament, producing a far fairer reflection of standings heading into its global showpiece.

Football’s World Cup is a far bigger beast to handle than rugby’s equivalent, yet they seem to cope.

Adding to the rugby madness is that eight of the 20 teams entered into the draw in November won’t even be known – they still have to come through a long and involved qualification process.

As it stands, the heavyweight teams now have less than a year to sort themselves out for a tournament that is still way over the horizon.

New All Blacks coach Ian Foster needs a big first year on the test scene.


New All Blacks coach Ian Foster needs a big first year on the test scene.

There will be one Six Nations, one Rugby Championship and then the traditional November internationals in Europe, featuring teams from both hemispheres, to find a pecking order.

France could find themselves in a tricky situation. They have started a new cycle with a radical overhaul of their playing ranks.

Their new-look squad is in its infancy and has been picked with an eye to 2023. Suddenly they have everything to play for in 2020 when they would have expected another Six Nations to fit into their schedule next year to try to life their world ranking for the Cup draw.

France are currently No 7 and could find themselves in a ‘pool of death” for a tournament they have the honour of hosting if they can’t get some quick results to help their cause.

This is the sort of decision by World Rugby that frustrate fans and unions and leave us all realising that hopes to truly unite a fractured game remain little more than a dream as we saw with the failed attempt last year to get a meaningful annual inter-hemisphere system in place.


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Publish date : 2020-01-29 20:07:00

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