Statement: Six Nations format to change from 2026 - Ruck

Statement: Six Nations format to change from 2026

World Rugby has greenlit a sweeping overhaul of the international rugby calendar, including the establishment of a new global league competition.

RUCK’s 2024 Guinness Six Nations content powered by ISUZU.

Set to debut in 2026, this biennial tournament will feature two divisions, each comprising 12 teams. Promotion and relegation mechanics are slated to kick in from 2030 onwards. Match fixtures are earmarked for the July and November international windows.

Alongside this initiative, World Rugby’s council has endorsed an expansion of the World Cup to accommodate 24 teams by the 2027 edition in Australia. The revised format will introduce six pools of four teams and introduce a round of 16 prior to the quarterfinals.

As part of this calendar revamp, the Six Nations championship is set to undergo a reduction in duration, from seven weeks to six, starting in 2026. One week of rest will be removed, although the specific week has yet to be determined. This adjustment aims to free up an international weekend in November for the Nations Cup.

The top division of the Nations Cup will be managed by the Six Nations and SANZAR unions, while World Rugby will oversee the second division. The pinnacle of this competition will be a final clash between teams from the northern and southern hemispheres.

World Rugby asserts that this new structure, which preserves the traditional format of British and Irish Lions tours, will facilitate an increase in fixtures between rugby powerhouses and emerging nations alike.

England get straightforward pool for expanded 2027 Rugby World Cup

The Rugby World Cup 2027 draw is scheduled to occur in January 2026, providing a unique scenario with a full two years of international competition still to unfold.

This early draw will utilise the World Rankings as of the conclusion of November 2025 to determine the seeding of participating teams.

During the draw, the 24 participating teams will be divided into six pools, each consisting of four teams. Notably, this draw will transpire before the regional qualifiers have concluded, resulting in a dual-world approach.

On one side, we have the twelve automatic qualifiers from the 2023 Rugby World Cup, confirmed by their names. On the other side, the regional qualifiers will be represented as Africa 1, Europe 1, Europe 2, and so forth.

Rugby World Cup 2027 is set to be hosted in Australia, marking the eleventh edition of the Men’s Rugby World Cup and the third time it will take place in Australia. The country previously co-hosted the inaugural Rugby World Cup with New Zealand in 1987 and served as the sole host in 2003.

With the current World Rankings in mind, let’s delve into how the 2027 Rugby World Cup will shape up via Rugby Centre.

2027 Rugby World Cup draw (Current rankings)


  • South Africa
  • Australia
  • Portugal
  • Spain


  • France
  • Fiji
  • Tonga
  • Chile
Antoine Dupont of France during the Guinness Six Nations match between England and France at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on Saturday 11th March 2023 | Photo: James Fearn/PPAUK.