Bad news for Ireland.
The seedings for the 2023 Rugby World Cup draw have been confirmed, World Rugby confirmed in a statement this afternoon.
Although the tournament is three years away, the seedings from which the teams will be drawn to confirm the pools have already been set in stone.
World Rugby have confirmed that the pool draw for the 2023 Rugby World Cup will take place on December 14 later this year.
The draw generally takes place around this time but how the seedings have been determined will likely frustrate those who have been negatively affected, particularly Ireland.
Generally, the world rankings ahead of the draw are used to determine the seedings but because COVID-19 has led to a disrupted calendar this year, the seedings will be based on the world rankings from January 2020.
This means that Ireland will be in Band 2 as they had fallen to fifth in the world rankings due to their disappointing 2019.
Rugby World Cup seedings:
Band 1: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales
Band 2: Ireland, Australia, France, Japan
Band 3: Scotland, Argentina, Fiji, Italy
Band 4: Oceania 1, Europe 1, Americas 1, Asia / Pacific 1
Band 5: Africa 1, Europe 2, Americas 2, Final Qualifier Winner
Ireland could potentially be in a 2023 Rugby World Cup pool including the All Blacks and familiar foe, Argentina.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The Draw is a key milestone on the journey to Rugby World Cup France 2023 and the time when the tournament truly comes to life for teams and players alike, enabling key operational elements to be undertaken such as venue allocation, optimal match schedule development and, of course, the ticketing programme.
“While COVID-19 means that, in the interests of fairness for all qualified teams, we have needed to draw a line under the rankings at the beginning of the year, everyone should appreciate that this is a unique time, we can’t delay, and we must continue to accelerate planning for what is going to be a truly spectacular and special Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.”
Ireland are currently ranked fourth in the world. If the seeding were based on the rankings as they are now, Andy Farrell’s side would have been included in Band 1 or top seeding.
Wales are a team who have benefitted from this situation. They are currently ranked sixth in the world but due to the fact they were fourth at the beginning of the year, they are considered a first seed.