Six Nations and World Cup qualification

What effect will this year’s Six Nations have on World Cup qualification?

Published by John Birch, March 20, 2024

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Six Nations and World Cup qualification

There have been all sorts of quite complex statements from World Rugby about how qualification for next year’s expanded 16-team World Cup will work, including diagrams such as this:

This obviously makes no mention of the Six Nations, so has World Rugby finally moved away from using a private, closed, tournament as a qualifier for the World Cup?


In practice – and despite the apparent complexity of the above diagram – quite simply the top five teams in this year’s Six Nations will qualify for the World Cup.

The sixth placed team will playoff against the European Champions (likely Spain), and the winner of that game will also qualify. The loser will play in WXV3 where the top two teams will qualify.

It would get a tiny bit more complicated if England or France finished sixth, but – first – that is not going to happen, and – second – even if it did, in the end it would make little difference.

In the end all of the teams that qualify for this year’s WXV1 and WXV2 will, in doing so, also qualify for the World Cup. Where they finish in WXV1 and WXV2 is irrelevant. The team ending bottom of WXV2 will be ranked in the top 12, and higher than the team that tops WXV3.

So that means the top five in the Six Nations, all the teams in the Pacific Fours, the African and Asian Champions, and the winner of the European playoff will be at the World Cup next year regardless of anything else.

The last four places will go to the Oceania Champions, the South America playoff winners, and the top two in WXV3 (or, if the Oceania champions end first or second in WXV3, the third team).