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Rugby World Cup draw: Ireland and Scotland to face each other in pool stages

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In December, Ireland beat Scotland to finish third in the Autumn Nations Cup

Ireland and Scotland will face each other in the pool stages of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

England – finalists in 2019 – will play Japan and Argentina, while 2019 semi-finalists Wales will face Australia and Fiji.

It is the second successive World Cup in which Ireland and Scotland have been drawn together, with only Ireland making it out of the pool last time.

Reigning champions South Africa also join the two sides in Pool B.

Wales also played Australia and Fiji in the 2019 pool stages, finishing top of the group before bowing out against the Springboks in the semi-finals.

In Pool A, hosts France face three-time winners New Zealand and Six Nations rivals Italy.

Only 12 teams have qualified for the tournament so far, with eight qualifiers to be finalised by November 2022.

The sides are divided into four pools of five, with the top two from each pool going through to the quarter-finals.

Last year’s tournament in Japan was only the second time Scotland had failed to make it out of the pool stages, having also done so in 2011.

In 2019 Gregor Townsend’s men lost to Ireland and Japan, both of whom advanced to the last eight.

The tournament will be played 8 September-21 October 2023 across 10 French cities, with the largest venue Paris’ Stade de France and the smallest the Stade de Nice.

The full tournament fixture list, with date, location and times of all games, will be announced at the end of February 2021.

Why is the draw taking place now?

There are just under three years to go before the tournament begins and the draw seedings were based on world rankings from January this year.

Positions after this year’s autumn Tests would normally be used to form the draw bands but some teams – for example South Africa and Japan – have not played in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wales have benefited from this as they were included among the top seeds but have since dropped to ninth in the world.

In future, the Rugby World Cup board has recommended the draw takes less than a year before the event to ensure the pools better reflect performance at the time.

Pool A Pool B
New Zealand South Africa
France Ireland
Italy Scotland
Americas qualifier Asia/Pacific qualifier
Africa qualifier Europe qualifier
Pool C Pool D
Wales England
Australia Japan
Fiji Argentina
Europe qualifier Oceania qualifier
Qualifier Americas qualifier

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