Next Rugby World Cup, to be held in Australia, moved to avoid clashes with NRL and AFL finals

World Rugby chief executive Alan Gilpin said on Tuesday holding the draw for the 2027 World Cup in January 2026 was a “compromise” but would be better than the situation for the current competition.

The draw for this year’s World Cup in France was held in December 2020, nearly three years before the tournament kicked off, leading unintentionally to a lopsided tournament.

When the tournament started in September the top five teams according to the rankings – Ireland, South Africa, France, New Zealand and Scotland – were in two of the pools.

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Number one ranked Ireland were knocked out by fourth-ranked New Zealand in the quarter-finals while third ranked France exited at the hands of the second-ranked All Blacks.

Scotland went out at the pool stage having been in the same one as the Irish and the South Africans.

The 2027 World Cup will take place in Australia between October 1-November 13, moved later than usual to avoid clashes with the AFL and NRL seasons.

Those leagues’ Grand Finals are expected to be held the weekend before the World Cup begins.

“I understand that there’s frustration at the timing of the draw for this World Cup,” Gilpin told reporters.

Holding the draw in 2026 was “a compromise but better than what we have now,” he added.

Gilpin said moving the draw for the 2027 event, which will be expanded from 20 to 24 nations, any later would be a risky decision.

“It would put ticket sales at risk and that puts the financing of the tournament at risk,” Gilpin said.

“Fans would be very frustrated by that outcome of not being able to plan without any certainty with less than a year to Rugby World Cup.

“It would make a real challenge, especially with the expansion of the 24 teams to plan for that,” he added.

This year’s World Cup ends on Saturday as holders South Africa meet New Zealand at the Stade de France in Paris with both sides eyeing a record fourth title.

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