It’s already time to talk about the 2027 Rugby World Cup, with lots of changes to the format and another four years for Irish fans to dream about a semi-final
Expanded to 24 Teams
One of the most significant alterations to the Rugby World Cup format will be the expansion to 24 teams. This expansion is a bold move that aims to make the tournament more inclusive and bring rugby to new corners of the world. The increased number of teams will undoubtedly lead to a more diverse and competitive tournament.
Introducing the Round of 16
In a move that mirrors the format of other major international sports tournaments, the Rugby World Cup will now feature a Round of 16. This means that the top two teams from each pool, along with the best four third-placed teams, will advance to the knockout stage. This change adds an extra layer of excitement to the competition and ensures that more teams have a chance to progress deeper into the tournament.
Reduced Window and Pool Phase
To streamline the tournament and ensure it remains a logistical triumph, the Rugby World Cup in 2027 will reduce its duration. Previously, the competition spanned six weeks (or seven weekends), but now it will take place in a shorter five-week period. This change is designed to minimize player fatigue and maintain the high level of intensity that fans have come to expect from the Rugby World Cup.
Late Pool Draw
Another intriguing change is the decision to conduct the pool draw in January 2026 This move is aimed at maximizing the suspense and intrigue surrounding the tournament. It means that teams and fans will have a shorter wait to discover their opponents but it will avoid the 2021 debacle of the top five teams on one side of the draw.
Six Pools of Four Teams
The new format will see the teams divided into six pools, each consisting of four teams. This setup ensures a balanced and competitive group stage, with each team having an equal opportunity to advance to the Round of 16. The pool phase is shortened from four to five weeks, maintaining a rapid pace and keeping fans engaged throughout.
Possible pools for Rugby World Cup 2027 according to current World Rankings
South Africa, Argentina, Portugal, Spain
New Zealand, Wales, Georgia, Romania
Ireland, Australia, Samoa, Namibia
France, Fiji, Tonga, Chile
England, Italy, Uruguay, Canada
Scotland, Japan, USA, Hong Kong
Other possible teams : Brazil, Netherlands, Switzerland, Korea, Zimbabwe.