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Rugby World Cup Expansion Is On The Cards After 2019

We’re about a year away from the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan but already, plans are being made for the 2023 and 2027 editions of the tournament. 

World Rugby have stated that they are giving serious consideration to expanding the tournament from 20 to 24 teams for the 2023 edition of the tournament although this expansion first occurring in 2027 is more likely, according to a report in The Guardian.

Brett Gosper, the chief executive of World Rugby, is keen to see more Tier 2 nations compete in the World Cup in the future.

“We’re always looking from an expansive point of view, rather than reducing so it’s just a question of when rather than if,” said Gosper. “We just want to make sure the teams are competitive enough to move to a 24-team tournament. In order to grow the sport, it’s about getting interest from new fans and commercial interest in new markets but you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the teams.”

Making sure you have the teams would seem to be the most important factor. We have already seen incredibly one-sided matches in previous editions of the tournament, so putting weak nations into the competition for the sake of it would be foolhardy.

Alan Gilpin, who is the head of the Rugby World Cup, is also looking at potential expansion and Gosper also reveals that they are doing considerable work with weaker nations such as those competing in the Repechage to make sure there are not on the receiving end of heavy defeats.

“We are definitely looking at expansion not contraction. We’d love to move to 24 teams,” said Gilpin. “We are confident the team that qualifies will be competitive enough, even against the All Blacks,” said Gosper. “We’ll work hard with that team to make sure that team is well trained in advance.”

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email or on Twitter