With the coronavirus pandemic playing havoc with international rugby, organisers of the 2023 Rugby World Cup are prepared to rank teams on their form in 2019 for November’s pool draw.
Twelve nations have already qualified for France in 2023 but the seedings have yet to be determined and the shutdown of international rugby raises problems for calculating an up-to-date ranking.
“Unless the Six Nations Tournament can be completed and the November tours can take place, the ranking on which the draw will be based will be that of the end of the 2019 World Cup,” Claude Atcher, the head of the organising committee, said in a teleconference.
The top three finishers in each pool in Japan qualified automatically for the 2023 World Cup. They were the teams that make up the European Six Nations, the four southern Super Rugby teams plus Fiji and Japan.
Reverting to the 2019 placings could harm France or Ireland, both were eliminated in the quarter-finals in Japan, but are battling for fourth in the current rankings.
Atcher also said that rugby hotbed Toulouse would not host any matches in the later stages of the competition but would stage up to five pool games and was guaranteed one of France’s warm-up games.
Of the nine grounds that will stage games, the Municipal Stadium in Toulouse has the smallest capacity at 33,150.
“The stadium disqualifies Toulouse’s bid for the knock-out rounds,” Atcher said during a telephone press briefing.
He added that host cities that were not selected to host knock-out games would not automatically be awarded warm-up games.
“For Marseille, it’s not a principle that has been put into practice. It will depend on the number of warm-up matches that the French team will play in 2023,” Atcher said adding that it depended how many warm-up games Fabvien Galthie decided to play.
“Today, the coach hasn’t decided how many matches he wants to play. If we’re on the basis of three, potentially there could be one in Marseille,” he said.
The competition will run from September 8 to October 21, 2023.