- Rugby Europe Championship 2022 to deliver two direct qualifiers by March
- Rugby Africa Cup 2022, organised in France in July, to determine Africa 1
- Contested Americas 2 and Asia/Pacific play-offs to take place in July
- Final Qualification Tournament in November to complete RWC 2023 line-up
TWO EUROPEAN PLACES DECIDED BY MARCH 2022
In Europe, the Rugby Europe Championship 2022 kicks off on 5 February and will qualify two teams for France 2023. The top two nations across the combined 2021 and 2022 standings will secure their place as Europe 1 and Europe 2 respectively.
With a 10-point lead at the halfway stage, Georgia are favourites to claim the Europe 1 spot following a grand slam-winning campaign in 2021 but everything is possible for Romania, Portugal, Spain and Russia who are aiming for the Europe 2 direct qualification spot.
The Europe 1 qualifier will join Wales, Australia, Fiji and the Final Qualifier Winner in Pool C, while the team qualifying as Europe 2 will go into Pool B alongside reigning world champions South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and the Asia/Pacific 1 qualifier.
The team that finishes third in the combined Rugby Europe Championship 2021 and 2022 will still have another chance to make it to France 2023 via the Final Qualification Tournament alongside teams from Africa, Asia/Pacific and the Americas.
Qualification tournaments to determine the last three teams from the regional process – Asia/Pacific 1, Americas 2 and Africa 1 – will continue in July.
Since losing the Oceania 1 play-off to Samoa, Tonga have beaten the Cook Islands and will play the winner of the Asia Rugby Championship in July to decide who qualifies for RWC 2023 as Asia/Pacific 1 and takes their place in Pool B.
In the Americas, the USA will have a second chance to reach a ninth Rugby World Cup when they play Chile – who ended Canada’s ever-present record last October – in the Americas 2 play-off over two legs, again in July.
It was confirmed this week that the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 will be held in the south of France from 1-10 July, with the winner of the eight-team knockout tournament qualifying for RWC 2023 as Africa 1.
Match schedule for Rugby World Cup 2023
LAST CALL FOR FRANCE IN NOVEMBER
Teams that narrowly missed out on qualification via the regional competitions will take part in the RWC 2023 Final Qualification Tournament in November. The round-robin competition will consist of four nations – the third-ranked team in the combined 2021 and 2022 Rugby Europe Championship table, plus the losing finalist from the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 and the sides that are beaten in the Asia/Pacific 1 and Americas 2 play-offs. The dates and location will be announced in due course.
The team that tops the standings will claim the final place, competing Pool C and the 20-team stellar line-up for Rugby World Cup 2023.
World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Rugby World Cup 2023 is getting closer and 2022 will be a pivotal year for teams looking to secure their tickets for rugby’s showcase men’s tournament.
“We are delighted to see the global competitiveness of our game improving with emerging nations like Portugal, Chile or Zimbabwe challenging historic Rugby World Cup teams for direct qualification. Credit must be given to our unions and regions who work tirelessly to organise these competitions, sometimes in challenging environments.
“We look forward to following the regional qualifiers and expect a few more surprises along the way.”