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Tuesday Feb 4, 2020

World Rugby's vice president wasn't consulted on RWC 2023 pool draw timing

World Rugby vice president Agustin Pichot has said that he is “completely against” having the draw for the 2023 Rugby World Cup at the end of this year.

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There was widespread criticism last week when it was revealed that the draw will take place in late November 2020, three years before the tournament starts in France in 2023. Not only would eight teams still not have qualified, but the rankings could change so much during the intervening time that the pools at the RWC may not actually reflect the balance of power in rugby.

This has clearly been shown in the past, most noticeably in 2015 with a pool consisting of Australia, England and Wales, three of the top four teams in the world.

The former Argentina captain Pichot said on Twitter that he was not “informed or consulted” about this decision, neither were RWC board members Steve Brown, Steve Tew or Michael Hawker.

Pichot has not been afraid to criticise World Rugby in the past, as he also took aim at the ranking system last year which saw Wales climb to world number one. On this occasion, he certainly has a lot of backing from the rugby world.

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Holding the draw so far in advance of the RWC does help with ticket sales and planning for travelling supporters coming from all corners of the world, and that is partly why World Rugby does this.

However, the drawbacks seem so glaringly obvious that they outweigh any of the reasons behind such a decision. Although football is a more popular sport, the FIFA World Cup draw is held just six months before the tournament starts, and there is still no problem with ticket sales.

The timing of the draw is not a new thing, and it has grown increasingly unpopular, but this shows that those in World Rugby are not keen either.

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