Rugby World Cup 24-teams’ expansion


Rugby WC will expand for 2027 tournament Image: Coliseum GSVA

The World Rugby made an announcement recently with what includes an expansion to the current World Cup and a new Nations Championship tournament. Four more teams are set to take part in the next edition of the World Cup, with 24 teams included in 2027, rather than 20 competing in France this year. The Nations Championship will consist of 12 teams, before a second division is introduced.

‘EUROSPORT’ stated that the World Rugby have announced that the Rugby World Cup will expand to 24 teams, while a new Nations Championship tournament is set to be launched.

Dublin (Ireland)-based the World Rugby is the governing body for the sport of rugby union. The World Rugby organizes the Rugby World Cup every four years, the sport’s most recognized and most profitable competition.

The World Rugby Nations Championship is a new biennial competition that will begin in 2026. The tournament will feature a top division of 12 teams comprising the Six Nations, the four Rugby Championship sides and two more participants, likely to be Japan and Fiji. The winner will be determined after a series of one-off fixtures in a grand final.

The Six Nations Championship is an annual international men’s competition between England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Wales. Previously called the Home Nations Championship and the Five Nations Championship, the tournament has been running since 1883.

The four sides in the Rugby Championship are: Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

‘EUROSPORT’ further stated that the change to the men’s World Cup will come into effect from the next edition of the tournament in Australia in 2027, while the Nations Championship will begin in 2026.

Despite the increased number of countries competing at the next World Cup and an additional round of 16 being introduced, the competition will be shortened from seven weeks to six.

The lopsided pool stage draw has been the cause of much controversy at the 2023 World Cup, having been made almost three years before the tournament, and the draw for the 2027 event has consequently been scheduled for January 2026.

The 2023 Rugby World Cup was the 10th men’s Rugby World Cup, the quadrennial world championship for the national rugby union teams. It took place in France from September 8th-28th, 2023 in nine venues across the country. The opening game and final took place at the 80,000-capacity Stade de France, North of Paris (France).

The 2027 Men’s Rugby World Cup is scheduled to be the 11th edition of the Rugby World Cup, the quadrennial world championship for men’s rugby union teams. It is scheduled to take place in Australia from October 1st-November 13th, 2027.

The Nations Championship will include the top 12 sides from the Northern and Southern hemispheres, alongside a second tier of 12 teams, with promotion and relegation between the two being implemented from 2030.

The top division of the Nations Championship will comprise the Six Nations unions of England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, and Italy, as well as the SANZAAR nations of South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina.

Sydney (Australia)-based SANZAAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina Rugby, previously known as SANZAR) is the body which oversees the Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship competitions in the rugby union. The SANZAAR meets annually and is comprises the head honchos from its member unions.

The Super Rugby is a men’s professional rugby union club competition involving teams from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. It previously included teams from Argentina, Japan and South Africa.

The Rugby Championship, formerly known as the Tri Nations Series, is an international rugby union competition contested annually by Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

SANZAAR will determine the remaining two nations to compete in the top division, while World Rugby is going to take responsibility for the second division.

Matches in this competition are earmarked to be played in the July and November international windows.

Meanwhile, reforms were announced for the women’s game, with confirmation that international and club fixtures will not overlap from 2026.

Said Sir Bill Beaumont, World Rugby Chairman, “Agreement on the men’s and women’s global calendars and their content is the most significant development in the sport since the game went professional. [It is] a historic moment for our sport that sets us up collectively for success. We now look forward to an exciting new era commencing in 2026. An era that will bring certainty and opportunity for all. An era that will support the many, not the few, and an era that will supercharge the development of the sport beyond its traditional and often self-imposed boundaries. I would like to thank all my colleagues for their spirit of collaboration. We have achieved something special.”

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