Rugby World Cup 2027 expanded to 24 teams

Rugby World Cup 2023

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Rugby World Cup 2023

The men’s Rugby World Cup 2027 in Australia will feature 24 teams after the World Rugby Council approved historic reimagination of the competition format, window and timing.

Reflecting World Rugby’s mission to increase the global competitiveness, reach, impact and value of international rugby, the 11th edition of the men’s pinnacle event will see the world’s top teams compete for the right to lift the Webb Ellis Cup across six weeks from 1 October to 13 November, 2027.

The new format will feature six pools of four teams, with a round of 16 added prior to the quarter-finals. This will enable the tournament window to be reduced from seven to six weeks, while promoting a rhythm that builds momentum across the pool phase and respects the same minimum number of rest days between matches as at France 2023.

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A cornerstone of overall reform of the international calendar from 2026, this reimagination of Rugby World Cup has players and fans at heart, providing unions and international and domestic competitions with greater opportunity and certainty. It has been made possible by linked reform of World Rugby Regulation 9 governing the international windows for player release.

RWC 2027 at a glance

  • Rugby World Cup 2027 will be hosted between 1 October and 13 November.
  • The tournament will be expanded from 20 to 24 teams.
  • New reduced six-week (seven-weekend) Rugby World Cup window approved, supporting welfare, entertainment and value imperatives – pool phase reduced from five to four weeks.
  • Round of 16 to be introduced with top two teams from each pool automatically qualifying along with the best four third-placed teams.
  • Decision provides certainty for all stakeholders and maintains Rugby World Cup’s position as the jewel in the crown of the international calendar.
  • Details of the qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2027 will be determined following a full review of France 2023 and consultation with unions and regions.

The Council also supported World Rugby’s desire to undertake the Pool Draw as late as possible to best reflect global competitiveness. This has been made possible by reform of the hosting model in May 2022, which sees World Rugby take greater control of key decisions and more financial risk.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “If we are to become a truly global sport, we must create greater relevance, opportunity and competitiveness to attract new fans and grow value.

“This incredible Rugby World Cup 2023 tournament has demonstrated the passion and potential that lies beyond the top 10 or 12 nations, if we think big and think inclusive. It is not acceptable to accept the status quo. Not acceptable to do nothing.

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“The decision to expand Rugby World Cup 2027 to 24 teams is logical and the right thing to do. Underpinned by a new global calendar that increases certainty and opportunity, we are focused on raising standards, closing the gaps and creating a spectacle that fans demand to see. With its love of sport and major events, Australia is the perfect place to do just that.”

Independent chairman of the Rugby World Cup 2027 and 2029 Board Sir Rod Eddington said: “This is a fantastic outcome for the Local Organising Company as we prepare to transfer from future host to next host of the men’s Rugby World Cup. Importantly, the decision made by the Council today will enable the LOC to move ahead with certainty and finalise the hosting details for the Rugby World Cup in Australia. We look forward to working in partnership with the Australian Government, our State/Territory governments and Rugby Australia over the coming months to do so.”

World Rugby Chief Executive Alan Gilpin added: “Today’s decision is the culmination of a process that began in May 2022 with a new Rugby World Cup hosting model, greater collaboration on reform of the international calendar and recognition that the sport needed to evolve.

“A reduced pool phase with a more regular cadence of matches and the introduction of a round of 16 makes for a compelling and competitive pool phase where every match counts. To be able to achieve this new format in a reduced window while preserving important player welfare considerations is a huge step forward for the game and great for fans and players.”