The next tournament will be held in France and the hosts will face New Zealand in a blockbuster opening match in Saint-Denis.
The finals work the same way as the 2019 tournament with the first two teams in each pool progressing to the quarter-finals, which will be contested by knock-out matches.
If we suppose the top-ranked teams each win their pools and the second-ranked teams finish runners-up then the quarter-finals in 2023 could look something like this…
- Wales vs Japan
- South Africa vs France
- England vs Australia
- New Zealand vs Ireland
The semi-finals would then be;
Stuart Barnes is angry that due to the early draw, two of the top four in the world (South Africa, France, New Zealand and Ireland) will miss out on the semi finals.
Writing in The Times, he said: “Unfortunately, the ridiculously early pool draw in December 2020 has distorted the next World Cup. Most would agree that an ideal is for the best quartet of teams to have the best opportunity of making the semi-finals. In France, two of the world’s leading contenders will be out before the semi-final stage.
“The host country are in pool A with New Zealand, while South Africa and Ireland are both in pool B. At the quarter-final stage, the winners of pool A face the runners-up of pool B and vice-versa – meaning that a maximum of two of the four best sides can reach the semi-finals. This is a horrendous situation; the premature draw has damaged the competition.
“Ireland face the top-rated team (South Africa) at pool stage and will have to beat France (second) or New Zealand (third) if they are to reach a first ever semi-final.”
- New Zealand