The final World Rugby Rankings make a mockery of the World Cup draw


The warm-ups are over and the Rugby World Cup itself is now just weeks away, but we can’t help but stop to take a moment and check out the current World Rugby Rankings before it all kicks off in France.

As things stand, Ireland are the number one ranked team in the world, with South Africa not far behind, and France, New Zealand, and Scotland rounding off the top five in that order.

So what’s the big deal? Well if you take a look at those five teams – first, second, and fifth in the world are all in the same pool next month, with third and fourth set to lock horns with two of the other three as early as the quarter-finals, having also been named in the same pool.

You see, the pools for the 2023 competition were actually drawn way back on December 14, 2020, nearly three years out from the start of the World Cup in France.

Only two of the top five ranked teams in the world can get as far as the semi-finals of this year’s competition, as a result,  and it makes a mockery of the competition. World Rugby were widely criticised at the time of the draw for holding it so early, and those criticisms are clearly justified.

But at least World Rugby have seen their mistake, with chairman Bill Beaumont confirming the draw will be held later ahead of Australia 2027.

“The reason why the pool draws were made earlier was because of the surety of the host cities and knowing where teams were going, which is very important,” Beaumont told The Breakdown last month.

“What we will be doing is looking to have the pool draw as late as possible so that you get more consistency around the balance in a pool.

“There’s always going to be one pool which is tougher than the others.

“When we go to Australia, we will be looking at how late we can make the pool draw.”

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