This is a subject that comes up regularly. World Rugby would study the possibility of increasing, from 2027, the number of teams participating in the World Cup, from 20 to 24 nations, reveals the British daily Times. It was Alan Gilpin, Director General of the International Federation, who explained it to our colleagues: “We have an excellent opportunity to make bold decisions now. (...) If we do not seize these opportunities, rugby's chances of growth diminish. We are pushing for these changes now.”
The new format of the competition would be as follows: six groups of four, with the addition of a round of 16. The top two teams from each pool would qualify, plus the top four third-placed teams. “The United States, Canada or even Spain, which did not qualify this year, would constitute great additional teams,” adds Alan Gilpin, who takes the example of Chile (which is playing in its first World Cup) and the performances encouraging results from Portugal against Wales (28-8) and Georgia (18-18).
The next World Cups will take place in Australia in 2027 and in the United States in 2031. World Rugby is nevertheless concerned about the poor results of the teams from these two host nations: the Wallabies are almost eliminated and the Americans have not even qualified . This could have a negative impact on public attendance, in two countries where rugby union is a minority sport. “We would like Australia to be more competitive in 2027 for its home World Cup, because this will help to stimulate enthusiasm among their public,” specifies the CEO of World Rugby. We just saw it unexpectedly with their ‘Matildas’ (Australian women’s football team, semi-finalists) at the last FIFA Women’s World Cup.”