Wales have been given an added incentive close to the eve of their Six Nations title defence – securing their status among the top seeds at the 2023 World Cup.
World Rugby and the France 2023 Organising Committee have confirmed that the Rugby World Cup 2023 Pool Draw will take place in Paris after the November 2020 international window.
The tournament will feature 20 teams, of which 12 are automatically qualified owing to a top-three ranking in their respective Rugby World Cup 2019 pools: champions South Africa, England, Wales, New Zealand, Japan, France, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina and Fiji.
But as with previous World Cups, automatically qualified teams will be seeded based on the World Rugby Rankings after the November international Test window (21-22 November) and positioned into three bands of four teams.
Wales are currently in the top band of four countries, but Wayne Pivac’s side could slip out if they suffer a disappointing Six Nations.
That would put pressure on them ahead of tough looking summer Tests against New Zealand in July and then the November matches.
Wales are currently ranked the number four team in the world, behind South Africa, New Zealand and England.
It means, as of today, the World Cup seeding bands would be:
Band 1: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales
Band 2: Ireland, Australia, France, Japan
Band 3: Scotland, Argentina, Fiji, Italy
The remaining eight teams will come through the global qualification process, which kicks off later this year and will be allocated into bands four and five based on relative strength. Tickets will be available from early 2021.
World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said: “The pool draw is an important milestone on the road to Rugby World Cup 2023 in France as it really drives excitement and momentum both in the host nation and throughout the global rugby family – it is the moment teams and fans can start to plan.
“With the World Rugby Rankings determining the bands for the RWC 2023 pool draw, it promises to be a fascinating year of men’s international rugby with every match counting towards seeding at the end of the November test series, which is exciting for fans.
“With planning and preparation for France 2023 gathering momentum, Paris will provide the perfect setting for what promises to be a fascinating Rugby World Cup 2023 pool draw.”