It seemed to be almost universally agreed that the draw for the next World Cup would be made closer to the tournament so as to reflect current rankings, but it now seems that the draw will be made in 2016, three years prior to the competition once again.
This is due to the collision of the 2020 Olympics and the 2019 World Cup both of which are due to be held in Japan. By delaying the pool draw it would increase the chance of a ticketing clash with the Olympics which would be detrimental to both events.
Speaking about the draw CEO of the Japan 2019 Organising Committee, Akira Shimazu, said
The pool allocation draw will still be made sometime next year. But the match scheduling and the dates and venues might be announced at a later date. We have to start ticket sales fairly early.
We have tickets to sell for the Olympics and Paralympics, we don’t want to be in competition with each other as it will just have a negative impact
We’ve been talking to World Rugby, but we need to have the draw and start selling tickets as early as possible. That’s a unique situation to Japan that didn’t happen in England.
So what does all this mean for the Six Nations this year? Well the current world rankings have Ireland placed in sixth for example, which would leave them in pot two and facing a group with a top four ranked side.
Wales are currently the only Northern Hemisphere team in the top four but they are easily catchable, as are Argentina in fifth.
The news piles a huge amount of significance on the Six Nations as the winner of the tournament is likely to seal a top seed spot and a poor campaign could see some teams drop into the third tier of teams for the World Cup draw.