PARIS (Reuters) – Three-time winners and eternal favorites, New Zealand will face host France in the group stage of the 2023 Rugby World Cup (RWC), but both sides will be confident after landing Italy as the third seed of the group. Monday.
Holders from South Africa have been drawn with Ireland and Scotland, while 2019 finalists England have the potentially delicate dual challenge of Argentina and Japan. Wales will face Australia for the fourth time in five tournaments and Fiji for the fifth time in a row, with the Islanders knocking out the Welsh the last time France hosted the tournament in 2007.
If the groups became roughly to form France, France would face a tough quarter-final against the Springboks while England would face Australia or Wales. Ireland, who have never made it past the quarter-finals, would struggle to break that streak like they would face New Zealand.
The trajectory of the form could then produce a repeat of the 2019 semi-finals when England beat New Zealand and South Africa defeated Wales.
Scotland and Argentina were said to have been seeded second on the current rankings but, as rankings were based on positions late last year due to the COVID-ravaged schedule, they were placed in third level and face a daunting challenge progressing.
World champion South Africa made the draw without having played a single match since the 2019 final. Their victory in Japan was the first time a team has won the competition after losing a group game.
“Although he’s still almost three years old, it’s good to have an end goal to reach,” said South African coach Jacques Nienaber.
“Ireland and Scotland will be a tall order – we’ll have to be in top form just to get out of the pool.”
New Zealand are the only team to never lose a game of pool. In 2011, they beat France at this point and then again in the final. They were paired with Italy for a remarkable seventh time in 10 tournaments – a contributing factor in Italy’s label as the only team to have played in every World Cup without reaching the round of 16.
“We missed out on playing Italy in the last World Cup due to a hurricane so in some ways it will be a special opportunity to face them,” New Zealand coach Ian Foster said.
“Having France in our pool is going to be special, it’s a country with a lot of history and we watched them with admiration rebuild their team. They are building something very special for 2023. ”
France coach Fabien Galthie said: “Playing at home will be a fantastic challenge and a great motivation. There will be pressure but we will have the freedom to play our best.
England beat Argentina in the group stage in 2019, 2011 and 1995 while their only tournament encounter with Japan was a 60-7 victory in the inaugural World Cup in 1987. Their match in 2023 will be Special for coach Eddie Jones, who has a Japanese mother and coached the country to their famous group stage victory over South Africa in 2015.
Australia lost to Wales in 2019, sending them to the quarter-final against England which they lost. The same potential outcome is to be expected in 2023, with a knockout match against Japan or Argentina, a likely more welcome quarter-final run for the group winners.
The tournament will take place in nine cities from September 8 to October 21, with the final in Paris. The remaining eight qualifications are yet to be determined and will not be finalized until November 2022.
French President Emmanuel Macron attended the draw.
“We can’t wait to get ready for this event,” he said. “In 2023, it will be 12 years since we reached the final for the last time. But this time it will be home for you (the team) to find a way to win the Cup. France also reached the finals of 1987 and 1999 – continuing the 12-year cycle.
“The COVID-19 crisis is terrible. In 2023, we want to offer what France can offer: the French art of living – conviviality, gastronomy, festivals and culture.