Rugby Canada men's national team Head Coach Kingsley Jones passes a ball while posing for a photograph after he was introduced as the new coach of the team, in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday October 24, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Qualification still needed but now Canada knows what awaits at 2023 Rugby World Cup

Qualification still needed but now Canada knows what awaits at 2023 Rugby World Cup

Canada got a look Monday at what awaits at the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France and it’s a case of pick your poison.

The 23rd-ranked Canadian men will face either New Zealand or England in group play if they secure one of the two direct qualifying spots from the Americas for the 20-team showcase.

At Monday’s draw in Paris, Americas 1 was placed in Group A with third-ranked New Zealand, No. 4 France, No. 14 Italy and Africa 1 (which was Namibia at the 2019 tournament).

Americas 2 will play in Group D alongside No. 2 England, No. 8 Argentina, No. 10 Japan and Oceania 1 (No. 13 Tonga or No. 15 Samoa).

Group B, the only pool Canada could not land in, features defending champion and top-ranked South Africa, No. 5 Ireland, No. 7 Scotland (7), Asia/Pacific 1 and Europe 2.

Group C consists of No. 6 Australia, No. 9 Wales, No. 11 Fiji, Europe 1 and the winner of the final qualification tournament. Canada, which won the last-chance repechage last time out, could also end up in this group.

“I think they’re all looking pretty tough, aren’t they,” Canada coach Kingsley Jones said of the groups.

Jones has to consider both the skill and physicality of the opposition, given the sometimes short turnaround at the World Cup.

Group A is similar to Canada’s pool at the 2019 tournament in Japan with mercurial France replacing the powerful Springboks. The Canadian men (0-3-0) finished last in the pool (on point difference) behind tough opposition in New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Namibia. Canada’s final match against Namibia was called off due to Typhoon Hagibis.

The 2023 World Cup is scheduled to run Sept. 8 to Oct. 21 in nine stadiums.

Twelve teams have already qualified, by virtue of finishing in the top three of their pools at the 2019 tournament: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Australia, Japan, Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy.

Eight more countries will join them via regional qualifiers, including the Americas.

Qualifying for 2023 has seen various permutations in the region. Canadian officials had been led to believe it would involve results in the Americas Rugby Championship — which involves Canada, the U.S, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and an Argentina reserve side — over the next two years.

But the most recent Americas qualifying road map tweaks the traditional format.

Canada will face the 16th-ranked Americans home and away with the winner facing a South American tournament victor, likely No. 18 Uruguay, in the two-legged Americas 1 Playoff to determine who goes to the World Cup as Americas 1.

The Canada-U.S. loser will face a South American tournament runner-up, likely No. 26 Brazil or No. 29 Chile, in the Americas 2 Qualifier with the winner advancing to the Americas 2 Playoff against the Americas 1 Playoff loser. The winner of that series moves on as Americas 2 while the loser goes the final qualification tournament.

Jones hopes that process can start in the fall of 2021, allowing the teams that qualify more time to prepare for the World Cup.

The 12 teams already qualified were seeded for the draw based on World Rugby’s rankings as of Jan. 1, 2020 — in deference to the COVID-caused havoc on the international schedule — and placed in the first three four-country pots. Americas 1 was in pot 4 and Americas 2 in pot 5.

World Rugby has said in the future, seedings used for the draw will come much closer to the tournament itself.

Due to the pandemic, the Canadians have not played since their final outing at the 2019 World Cup — a 66-7 loss to South Africa on Oct. 8.

In the past, Americas qualifying has pitted Canada against the U.S. with the winner securing a World Cup berth and the loser facing a South American team for the second direct berth. The loser of that match has previously had a third shot via a last-chance repechage tournament.

Before the 2019 event, Canada had always secured its Americas berth at the first stage of qualifying.

But last time out, the Canadians lost qualifying series to the U.S. and Uruguay before winning the repechage tournament that also featured Germany, Hong Kong and Kenya.

The loss to the Americans cost Mark Anscombe his job as Canada coach in August 2017, with Jones taking over.

Monday’s draw was held in a largely empty Palais Brongniart, with French president Emmanuel Macron, wearing a mask, delivered welcoming words while physically distanced from the draw host.

World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont delivered his message remotely.

“Rugby World Cup 2023 will be great for rugby, but not only for rugby. In a world of change and uncertainty accelerated by the global pandemic, it’s important that major events are not just a celebration of sporting performance but a symbol of unity, diversity and change,” said Beaumont.

“It will be the best of rugby, and the best of France,” he added.

The Canadian men have made every World Cup field since the tournament debuted in 1987. But the team has only got out of the preliminary round once, in 1991 when it lost 29-13 to New Zealand in the quarterfinals.

2023 Rugby World Cup draw (with current world rankings)

Group A: New Zealand (3), France (4), Italy (14), America 1, Africa 1.

Group B: South Africa (1), Ireland (5), Scotland (7), Asia/Pacific 1 and Europe 2.

Group C: Wales (9), Australia (6), Fiji (11), Wales (9), Europe 1, winner of the final qualification tournament.

Group D: England (2), Japan (10), Argentina (8), Oceania 1, America 2.

—-

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 14, 2020

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

rugby

Just Posted

Mayor Rick Bonnett. (Screenshot)
WATCH: Ponoka council calls on gov’t to support rural small businesses

Ponoka council is calling on the provincial government to increase funding to… Continue reading

Pumpjacks draw oil out of the ground near Olds, Alta., Thursday, July 16, 2020. A new report suggests the economic impact of the pandemic led to a massive increase in federal aid to Canada's oil patch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta economy ‘still reeling,’ says ATB Financial

Alberta’s economy is still feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and… Continue reading

Ella Stoner, five, is ready to cut off her hair and donate it to A Child’s Voice Foundation. (Photo by Lauren Stoner Photography)
Central Alberta girl to donate her ‘princess hair’ to A Child’s Voice Foundation

A five-year-old girl from Rimbey has never had a haircut before. Now,… Continue reading

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta adds 1,195 new COVID-19 cases Saturday

Red Deer has dropped to 760 active cases

The Minnesota Wild celebrate their overtime victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Eriksson Ek’s OT goal lifts Wild past Vegas 1-0

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Joel Eriksson Ek’s goal at 3:20 of overtime… Continue reading

Toronto Blue Jays' Lourdes Gurriel Jr., celebrates after hitting a double against the Philadelphia Phillies during the third inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 16, 2021, in Dunedin, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)
Girardi, Segura have confrontation as Phils lose to Jays

Blue Jays 10 Phillies 8 DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) — The injury-depleted Philadelphia… Continue reading

New York Islanders' Kyle Palmieri (21) returns to the bench after scoring during the first period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, Sunday, May 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Palmieri’s OT winner lifts Isles by Penguins 4-3 in Game 1

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The New York Islanders brought Kyle Palmieri home at… Continue reading

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing to examine an update from Federal officials on efforts to combat COVID-19, Tuesday, May 11, 2021 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via AP)
Fauci says pandemic exposed ‘undeniable effects of racism’

ATLANTA (AP) — The immunologist who leads the COVID-19 response in the… Continue reading

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, participates in a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Feds face growing calls for answers after general overseeing vaccine effort sidelined

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government is facing growing calls for answers… Continue reading

Conservative MP Ron Liepert rises during Question Period on Parliament Hill, Friday, March 10, 2017 in Ottawa. Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails from people wanting to talk about his party's climate plan have slowed. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Alberta MP pitches Conservative carbon price with a 24-pack of Pilsner

OTTAWA — Ron Liepert says these days, the phone calls and emails… Continue reading

A sign marks Stairs Place in the Hydrostone district in the North end of Halifax on Thursday, May 13, 2021. The street was named for William Grant Stairs, a Canadian explorer from Halifax who helped lead some of the most controversial expeditions through the African continent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Where the streets have explorers’ names, some Halifax residents call for change

HALIFAX — When builders created Halifax’s distinctive Hydrostone neighbourhood more than a… Continue reading

Riley Oldford, 16, suffers from cerebral palsy. He was the first youth in the Northwest Territories to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Here he receives the needle from nurse practitioner Janie Neudorf in Yellowknife on Thursday May 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Bill Braden
People with disabilities even more alone during pandemic: cerebral palsy spokeswoman

YELLOWKNIFE — Riley Oldford is usually out playing sledge hockey or hanging… Continue reading

Most Read