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World Rugby has decided that those teams that finish third in each of this year’s four RWC pools will not have to qualify for the next World Cup in Japan 2019.
The reasoning is to reduce the lengthy elimination process, allowing four teams more training time to develop players. It will also cut down significantly on travel time and expenses for these qualifying nations.
In the past, 12-teams automatically advanced based upon their World Rugby rankings on a specific date. The process for pool placement for England 2015 occurred in October 2012, and resulted in much criticism when four of the top ten ranked fifteens (Australia, England, Wales, and Fiji) were slotted in Pool A.
This new pronouncement will have a profound effect on the ongoing RWC, as mid-placed teams seek to qualify at tournament’s end for a confirmed, future Japanese placement.
(Photo: Elland Stadium, Leeds where the Eagles will play Scotland.)