Securing a triumphant outcome in the upcoming Rugby World Cup poses an intensified challenge for the premier teams, attributable to the tournament’s draw. The leading five teams globally – Ireland, South Africa, France, New Zealand, and Scotland – find themselves situated in either pool A or pool B, injecting an additional layer of difficulty into their journey towards the championship finale.
This setup has generated criticism, most notably from Elliott Smith, host of the Rugby Direct podcast and All Blacks commentator. Smith vocally protests the timing of the draw, which took place in December of 2020, a period drowned in uncertainty during which global constraints may have hampered logistics.
In his opinion, it appears as though World Rugby may have hastily constructed this draw layout in a bid to supply the media with content. He brands it as ‘patently ridiculous’ to execute a World Cup draw three calendar years from the ultimate tournament.
The draw’s timing results in discrepancies between then and now in terms of world rankings. Consequently, the other side of the pool registers as comparatively weak, fielding an off-form England and Australia, who will presumably clash with Argentina for the remaining spot in the finale, Smith mentions in his comments to The Front Page podcast.
“Attaining a World Cup triumph should involve navigating a string of formidable games—no one disputes that,” adds Smith. He insists, however, that there ought to be some acknowledgment of team world ranking closer to the time of the tournament, which cultivates a more evenly distributed talent pool.
The host also pointedly scrutinizes World Rugby’s conduct, suggesting that this approach has cast an unfavorable shadow over the organization. Although World Rugby CEO Alan Gilpin has hinted at tweaking the process for future iterations, Smith believes the stagnant cut-off date, placed three years out from the tournament, did not prove beneficial to any party involved.
The challenging context raises several questions: Who will pull through this arduous test? Which teams from the other side of the draw could push through to ultimate victory? How are the Pacific teams holding up? Could the All Blacks seize the entire tournament? As the world waits with bated breath, only time will unravel these mysteries in the world of Rugby.