Rugby World Cup draw: Ireland and Scotland to face each other in pool stages

Ireland's Jacob Stockdale runs with the ball against Scotland
In December, Ireland beat Scotland to finish third in the Autumn Nations Cup

Ireland and Scotland will face each other in the pool stages of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

England - finalists in 2019 - will play Japan and Argentina, while 2019 semi-finalists Wales will face Australia and Fiji.

It is the second successive World Cup in which Ireland and Scotland have been drawn together, with only Ireland making it out of the pool last time.

Reigning champions South Africa also join the two sides in Pool B.

Wales also played Australia and Fiji in the 2019 pool stages, finishing top of the group before bowing out against the Springboks in the semi-finals.

In Pool A, hosts France face three-time winners New Zealand and Six Nations rivals Italy.

Only 12 teams have qualified for the tournament so far, with eight qualifiers to be finalised by November 2022.

The sides are divided into four pools of five, with the top two from each pool going through to the quarter-finals.

Last year's tournament in Japan was only the second time Scotland had failed to make it out of the pool stages, having also done so in 2011.

In 2019 Gregor Townsend's men lost to Ireland and Japan, both of whom advanced to the last eight.

The tournament will be played from 8 September to 21 October 2023 across 10 French cities, with the largest venue Paris' Stade de France and the smallest the Stade de Nice.

The full tournament fixture list, with date, location and times of all games, will be announced at the end of February 2021.

'We want to be at our best in 2023' - what they said

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell said: "There's nothing better than a Rugby World Cup draw to get the juices flowing. I'm super excited.

"The way that tier-two and tier-three nations are developing, if as a tier-one nation you are not preparing properly, you are going to come unstuck."

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend said: "It will be a wonderful tournament. I believe it's the toughest pool on current world rankings. It is going to be very competitive.

"Every four years the World Cup gets bigger and bigger for our sport. There is the long-term focus of developing a squad that can play its best rugby in 2023."

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said: "It's a similar pool but in another country. We're certainly very excited.

"It gives us a real focal point now. Everybody is going to have to be on their toes in every single match. There is a lot of work to be done but building depth is really important for us."

England head coach Eddie Jones said: "Argentina are a great team, Japan are possibly the most improving team in the world.

"They are all tough pools. We've just got to be at our best. We can't worry too much about other teams. The 2023 World Cup is when we want to be at our absolute best, not before and not after."

Why is the draw taking place now?

There are just under three years to go before the tournament begins and the draw seedings were based on world rankings from January this year.

Positions after this year's autumn Tests would normally be used to form the draw bands but some teams - for example South Africa and Japan - have not played in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wales have benefited from this as they were included among the top seeds but have since dropped to ninth in the world.

In future, the Rugby World Cup board has recommended the draw takes place less than a year before the event to ensure the pools better reflect performance at the time.

Rugby World Cup 2023 Pools
Pool APool B
New ZealandSouth Africa
FranceIreland
ItalyScotland
Americas qualifierAsia/Pacific qualifier
Africa qualifierEurope qualifier
Pool CPool D
WalesEngland
AustraliaJapan
FijiArgentina
Europe qualifierOceania qualifier
QualifierAmericas qualifier
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