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Rugby World Cup

Scotland Bring Back Stars for Japan Showdown

Scotland have brought back in a number of key players ahead of their final Pool A clash with Japan but one man has been named among the replacements in a big surprise




Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made a number of changes to his side for their Pool A showdown at the Rugby World Cup against hosts Japan on Sunday.

Having watched a side consisting of many of his reserve players hammer Russia 61-0 during the week Townsend has decided to bring back in big names such as Stuart Hogg and Finn Russell. 

However, despite a number of changes Townsend has left captain Stuart McInally on the bench in what is a surprise call by the Scots, with Fraser Brown, who started as a flanker against Russia, comes in to take McInally’s position at hooker. While Greig Laidlaw takes on the role of captain in his absence. 

Joining Fraser in the front-row are Allan Dell and WP Nel, with Grant Gilchrist and the always impressive Jonny Gray behind that trio in the second-row. 

Magnus Bradbury starts as the blindside-flanker, with Jamie Richie on the openside and Blade Thomson makes only his fifth cap from No 8. 

There is a hugely talented and exciting back-line with Laidlaw and Russell linking up as the half-backs, with Sam Johnson and Chris Harris just outside the duo in the centre positions. 

Darcy Graham opens up on the left-wing after an electric performance last time out, with Tommy Seymour on the right as Hogg completes the line-up from full-back. 

Joining McInally on the bench are the likes of Ryan Wilson, George Horne and Blair Kinghorn as Townsend has plenty to call upon among the replacements if needed. 

Speaking ahead of the game Townsend has praised his 31-man squad as he believes they have worked really well as a unit to get this far. 

“It’s taken a real squad effort from our players here in Japan to put us in a position to play for a place in the quarter-finals, having risen to the challenge of what’s effectively been knockout rugby since the second round of our Pool. The entire group has featured in our past two Tests, both of which have been clinical and professional performances. It was great to see players get the opportunity to play in this World Cup on Wednesday and it looked like they enjoyed the experience,” he said. 

He continued on to encourage his team to go out and earn a quarter-final spot with a win against Japan. 

“It’s now down to this group of 23 men to build on this momentum and squad togetherness to deliver a winning performance against Japan in Yokohama in two days’ time,” he added. 

Scotland know that a win could be enough for scrap through to the last eight of the tournament however, not only do they face a tough task against the Japanse they also have to hope that Typhoon Hagibis will pass before Sunday or else there is a possibility of having their game cancelled leaving the Scots heading home without any say. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

15. Stuart Hogg – 71 caps

14. Tommy Seymour – 54 caps

13. Chris Harris – 13 caps

12. Sam Johnson – 8 caps

11. Darcy Graham – 10 caps

10. Finn Russell – 48 caps

9. Greig Laidlaw (capt) – 75 caps

1. Allan Dell – 27 caps

2. Fraser Brown – 45 caps

3. Willem Nel – 34 caps

4. Grant Gilchrist – 39 caps

5. Jonny Gray – 54 caps

6. Magnus Bradbury – 10 caps

7. Jamie Ritchie – 13 caps

8. Blade Thomson – 4 caps


16. Stuart McInally – 32 caps

17. Gordon Reid – 40 caps

18. Zander Fagerson  – 24 caps

19. Scott Cummings – 7 caps

20. Ryan Wilson – 48 caps

21. George Horne – 9 caps

22. Pete Horne – 44 caps

23. Blair Kinghorn – 16 caps

Rugby World Cup

Women’s Rugby World Cup looks set to be postponed.



World Rugby has made the difficult decision to recommend the postponement of Rugby World Cup 2021, scheduled to be hosted in New Zealand between 18 September-16 October, until next year. The recommendation will be considered by the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee on 8 and 9 March respectively.Play Video

While appreciating the recommendation is extremely disappointing for teams and fans, it has their interests at heart, and gives the tournament the best opportunity to be all it can be for them, all New Zealanders and the global rugby family.

The recommendation is based on the evolution of the uncertain and challenging global COVID-19 landscape. It has become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the COVID-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage.  

The challenges include uncertainty and the ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand, and challenging global travel restrictions. 

World Rugby can assure teams, New Zealanders and the global rugby family that the recommendation to postpone the tournament will help to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2021 will be all it can be next year for players, fans and the rugby family – one of the great Rugby World Cups.

Further updates will be issued following the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee meetings next week.  

Statement Ends.

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Rugby World Cup

RWC 2023 Pools confirmed.




How the draw worked

As host nation, France was drawn first and placed randomly in one of the four pools. The teams were then drawn randomly from each band, starting with Band 5 (Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia / Pacific 1, Final Qualifier Winner), then Band 4 (Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2), then Band 3 (Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy), then Band 2 (Ireland, (France), Australia, Japan) and finally Band 1 (South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales). The first drawn in each band was placed in Pool A, the second in Pool B, the third in Pool C and the fourth in Pool D.

Draw seedings

Twelve of the 20 teams qualified automatically by finishing in the top three places of their Rugby World Cup 2019 pool. These 12 teams are: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Australia, Japan, Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy. Acknowledging the global COVID-19 impact on international rugby in 2020, these teams were seeded based on the World Rugby Men’s Rankings as of 1 January, 2020 and placed into the first three bands of four teams.

The remaining eight teams will come through the regional qualification process and were allocated for the draw into bands four and five based on relative strength. They are: Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2, Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia / Pacific 1 and the Final Qualifier Winner.

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Rugby World Cup

Qualification process set for Rugby World Cup 2023



Image from World Rugby
  • Process designed to promote regional strength and the best teams to rugby’s showcase event
  • 12 teams already qualified owing to top three pool placing at RWC 2019
  • RWC 2023 on track to be a spectacular celebration of rugby and France

World Rugby has announced details of the qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.

Following the most competitive and widely-acclaimed Rugby World Cup to date in Japan, the qualification process is designed to deliver the top teams in the world to rugby’s showcase tournament, while promoting a genuine opportunity for all unions.

With 12 teams having secured their place at France 2023 courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools at RWC 2019, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers. The process will conclude with a four-team round-robin Final Qualification Tournament in November 2022 to determine the final qualifier.

The dates for events in 2021 will be announced in due course and will be subject to an anticipated easing of the COVID-19 situation.

The announcement follows consultation with unions and regions in January 2020 and a full review of performance at Rugby World Cup 2019, where rankings upsets and the impressive performances in particular of Japan, Fiji, Uruguay, Tonga and Georgia cut the performance gap, with the average winning margin between established and emerging unions decreasing in comparison with 2015 benchmarks.

The Americas will deliver two direct places, while Oceania will deliver a direct qualifier with a further direct place available following a play-off with Asia. The Rugby Europe Championship (two direct places), Rugby Africa Cup (one direct place) and Final Qualification Tournament (one direct place) will provide the other qualifiers. Further details are provided below.

RWC 2023 qualification principles

  • Americas: the Americas will qualify two teams by September 2022. The third best team in the region will enter the Final Qualification Tournament – Americas 1 & Americas 2
  • Europe: the existing Rugby Europe Championship will have two qualifying places, with the two best teams in March 2022 qualifying directly and the third placed entering the Final Qualification Tournament – Europe 1 & Europe 2 
  • Africa: the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 winner will qualify directly and the runner-up team will go to Final Qualification – Africa 1
  • Oceania: a home and away play-off between Tonga and Samoa in 2021 will determine the direct qualifier for the Oceania region. – Oceania 1
    The loser will then play the Oceania Rugby Cup 2021 winner in the highest ranked team’s country with the eventual winner contesting Asia / Pacific (see below) as Oceania 2
  • Asia / Pacific: the winner of the Asian Rugby Men’s Championship 2021 will play Oceania 2 home and away. The winner on aggregate will determine the qualifier and the loser will go to Final Qualification – Asia / Pacific 1
  • Final Qualification Tournament: the tournament in November 2022 will feature four teams playing in a round-robin format with the winner qualifying for RWC 2023 – Final Qualification winner

Teams already qualified: South Africa, England, New Zealand, Wales, Japan, France (host), Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina, Fiji

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “With the global pandemic having halted most rugby activity, confirmation of the global qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023 provides a beacon of excitement for all, including players and fans.

“The process that has been developed via full consultation with our regional associations and member unions will provide a genuine opportunity for full member unions to qualify for our showcase men’s 15s event.

“Maximising existing regional competitions, the process is good for regions and unions in managing costs for organisers and participants alike, which is important as we all recover from the global pandemic.

“On behalf of World Rugby, I’d like to wish all teams involved the best of luck on their journey to France 2023.”

Rugby World Cup France 2023 CEO Claude Atcher added: “This qualification process gives emerging unions an opportunity to take part in our sport’s biggest competition.

“The success of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and performances by the host nation is a testimony of rugby’s expansion globally. As the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is about to be won, I welcome this optimistic prospect of reconnecting with the excitement of our sport. This is the start of our journey towards France 2023, which will be the best tournament ever delivered.”

Final details of the regional competition formats and dates will be announced in due course.

Official Press Release from World Rugby

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