How will Asian teams qualify for Rugby World Cup 2023?
This week World Rugby and the Rugby World Cup confirmed the qualifying process for teams to qualify for the RWC 2023 to be held in France. We look at the possible route Asian qualifiers will have to reach the tournament. Japan has already qualified based on their performance at RWC 2019.
RWC 2023 Qualification Process
World Rugby this week said “With 12 teams having secured their place at France 2023 courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools at RWC 2019, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers. The process will conclude with a four-team round-robin Final Qualification Tournament in November 2022 to determine the final qualifier.”
The dates for events in 2021 will be announced in due course and will be subject to an anticipated easing of the COVID-19 situation.
World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The process has been developed via full consultation with our regional associations and member unions will provide a genuine opportunity for full member unions to qualify for our showcase men’s 15s event. Maximising the existing regional competition, the process is good for regions and unions in managing costs for organisers and participants alike, which is important as we all recover from the global pandemic. On behalf of World Rugby, I’d like to wish all teams involved the best of luck on their journey to France 2023.”
Regional Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifiers
Each region will again have qualifier tournaments to determine which teams will make the final 2o places at the Rugby World Cup in France in 2023.
For an Asian team to qualify, they will need to win the Asian Rugby Men’s Championship 2021 and then take on the Oceania runner up for play-off games home and away. The winner on aggregate will qualify while the loser will go to Final Qualification – Asia / Pacific 1 in the final qualification tournament in 2022.
Rugby World Cup France 2023 CEO Claude Atcher added: “This qualification process gives emerging unions an opportunity to take part in our sport’s biggest competition.
“The success of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and performances by the host nation is a testimony of rugby’s expansion globally. As the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is about to be won, I welcome this optimistic prospect of reconnecting with the excitement of our sport. This is the start of our journey towards France 2023, which will be the best tournament ever delivered.”
RWC 2023 qualification principles
- Asia/Pacific: The winner of the Asian Rugby Men’s Championship 2021 will play Oceania 2 home and away. The winner on aggregate will determine the qualifier and the loser will go to Final Qualification – Asia / Pacific 1.
- Oceania: A home and away play-off between Tonga and Samoa in 2021 will determine the direct qualifier for the Oceania region. – Oceania 1. Tonga or Samoa will play two games on July 10 & 17 2021 with the aggregate score deciding the winner.
- The loser will then play the Oceania Rugby Cup 2021 winner (Cook Islands) on 24 July in Pukekohe, New Zealand.
- The winner of this match will then take on the newly-crowned Asia Rugby Championship 2021 champions, with Hong Kong, Korea and Malaysia the sides in contention for that title.
- Americas: The Americas will qualify two teams by September 2022. The third-best team in the region will enter the Final Qualification – Americas 1 & Americas 2.
- Europe: The existing Rugby Europe Championship will have two qualifying places, with the two best teams in March 2022 qualifying directly and the third-placed entering the Final Qualification Tournament – Europe 1 & Europe 2.
- Africa: The Rugby Africa Cup 2022 winner will qualify directly and the runner-up team will go to Final Qualification – Africa 1.
Final Qualification Tournament – November 2022
The final qualification tournament will take place in November 2022 and will feature four teams playing in a round-robin format with the winner qualifying for RWC 2023 – Final Qualification winner.
In the lead up to RWC 2019, Hong Kong made this stage before being knocked out.
Which teams have qualified for RWC 2023?
- South Africa
- New Zealand
- France (host)
Who are the likely Asian contenders?
Hong Kong, Korea and Malaysia competed in the last Asia Rugby Championship (ARC) in 2019 but before COVID-19 put a halt on sports in 2020, Philippines should have joined Korea and HK in the top division.
Hong Kong and Korea remain the likely Asian contenders to qualify from Asia, but the former is more likely. Hong Kong also came relatively close to qualifying in 2019 (making the final repechage tournament) and have had the better of Korea in the ARC over recent years.
Malaysia is still quite far off the pace of Korea and HK, receiving heavy defeats in 2019 to both Asian powerhouses.
Philippines is on the rise and have some lethal players in the 7s format of the game which enabled them to win the SEA Games gold in 2019 at home., but they have not reached the same heights in 15s rugby.
It’s unlikely any other nations in Asia will improve substantially enough in two seasons to knock Hong Kong or Korea off the favourites perch.
World Cup 2021
Rugby World Cup 2021, which will feature 12 of the best women’s rugby teams in the world in New Zealand, will run from 18th September – 16th October 2021.
The Asian qualifiers are still to be determined as the games were postponed in 2020 due to COVID-19. Hong Kong, Japan and Kazakhstan are the three potential qualifiers from Asia for the RWC 2021.
Asian Rugby news
- Women and Girls Rugby Conference 2020 in HK.
- Rhys Jones: Rugby Development in Singapore.
- Karina Soerjanatamihardja: Growth of Women’s Rugby in Indonesia.
- Rugby Worl Cup 2021: New Zealand