(Reuters) - World Rugby has announced the qualification process for the 2023 World Cup in France aimed at promoting a “genuine opportunity” for all unions, the game’s global body said on Monday.
Twelve teams — South Africa, England, New Zealand, Wales, Japan, France, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina and Fiji — have already qualified by virtue of their top three finishes in their respective pools at last year’s World Cup.
Seven of the eight remaining spots will be finalised via regional and cross-regional qualifiers, while a four-team round-robin tournament will determine the final qualifier.
“The process that has been developed via full consultation with our regional associations and member unions will provide a genuine opportunity for full member unions to qualify for our showcase men’s 15s event,” World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said in a statement.
The Americas and the Rugby Europe Championship will deliver two direct qualifiers each, while Oceania and the 2022 Rugby Africa Cup will deliver one apiece. A playoff between Oceania and Asia will determine the final direct qualifier.
The third-best team in the Americas, the third-placed finisher in the Rugby Europe Championship and the runner-up in the 2022 Rugby Africa Cup will occupy three of the four spots in the final qualification tournament.
The loser of the Asia-Oceania playoff will take up the final spot in the repechage tournament, scheduled for November 2022.
South Africa are the world champions, having beaten England 32−12 in last year’s final in Japan.
Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Ken Ferris