World Rugby updates qualification pathway for Rugby World Cup 2025
The qualification pathway for Rugby World Cup 2025 has been revised by the governing body it was announced in January 2022. We look at the changes and how Asian teams can qualify for RWC 2025.
The women’s edition of the RWC takes place in New Zealand in 2022, a year after it was meant to have taken place but was delayed due to the pandemic.
Where will Rugby World Cup 2025 be hosted?
No host nation has yet been confirmed for the Rugby World Cup 2025 but a decision is set to be made by the World Rugby Council in May 2022 (England is the preferred candidate). The tournament will see an expansion to 16 teams from the current format of 12 teams.
Rugby World Cup 2021 Tournament Director, Alison Hughes, said: “As Rugby World Cup 2025 expands from 12 to 16 teams we are committed to ensuring that the qualification process also evolves to ensure a fair and certain pathway that provides teams with more opportunities to qualify for the pinnacle event.”
What are the main changes to the qualification pathway for RWC 2025?
World Rugby announced the changes on 27 January 2022, with the main points being:
- RWC 2025 host nation will automatically qualify for the tournament*
- RWC 2021 semi-finalists will secure direct qualification for RWC 2025**
- New WXV will form a key part of the RWC 2025 qualification process
- New pathway offers more opportunities for more teams to qualify
*Should the host nation of RWC 2025 win their respective regional competition, the next best-placed team in that region will secure direct qualification.
**Should the host nation of RWC 2025 be a semi-finalist of RWC 2021 and win, only the remaining three teams will qualify for RWC 2025.
WXV Key for RWC 2025 Qualification
World Rugby said that the Rugby World Cup 2025 will be the “jewel in the crown of a new international calendar for women’s rugby with the hugely-anticipated WXV competition due to commence next year.” Plans for the WXV competition were revealed in March 2021.
“With the inclusion of WXV as part of the qualification pathway, this not only streamlines the qualification process and reduces the necessity for additional qualification tournaments within the new women’s international calendar, but it will also make the WXV competition even more competitive and brings new meaning as it now provides a final opportunity for all non-qualified teams worldwide to secure their place at Rugby World Cup 2025″ added Rugby World Cup 2021 Tournament Director, Alison Hughes.
At the time, the main highlights of the new global women rugby completion were:
- Unified international 15s calendar to comprise of two playing windows on an annual basis, optimising player welfare and performance, and be hosted within a new September-October global competition window, except in a Rugby World Cup year.
- Ground-breaking global international 15s calendar set to accelerate the development of women’s game ahead of expanded RWC 2025.
- WXV will be supported by the new Women in Rugby commercial programme.
- WXV offers hosts diversified revenue-generating opportunities.
The new three-tiered annual women’s 15s competition will see at least the top five ranked non-qualified teams at the end of WXV 2024 qualify for the RWC 2025 tournament.
Based on the three tiers, our understanding is that Asian teams will feature in WXV 2 and 3 and we assume these will come from the top two teams from the Asia Rugby Championship?
How do teams qualify for RWC 2025?
The RWC 2025 host nation will automatically qualify for the tournament with the four RWC 2021 semi-finals also securing direct qualification.
World Rugby added that should the host nation of RWC 2025 be a semi-finalist of RWC 2021 and win, only the remaining three teams will qualify for RWC 2025.
Thereafter, the next six teams will qualify via regional competitions by 2024, with winners in:
- South America
- Newly established cross-regional competition, the Pacific Four Series, securing direct qualification.
At least the top five ranked non-qualified teams at the end of WXV 2024 qualifying for the tournament will qualify.
How can Asian teams qualify for RWC 2025?
For RWC 2021, so far only Japan from Asia has qualified, while Kazakhstan is in contention at the final qualifying tournament to be played in Dubai in February 2022. Both qualifiers were fortunate due to decisions made by World Rugby and Asia Rugby as the pandemic ruled out several tournaments that should have determined the Asian contenders.
If Kazakhstan makes it to New Zealand, they and Japan could qualify for RWC 2025 by making it to the semi-finals.
At least one Asian team will qualify by 2024. Then the performances in the WXV in 2023 will determine any other Asian qualifiers with the most likely other contenders to Japan and Kazakhstan being Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and India based on the World Rugby rankings.
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