2023 Rugby World Cup Draw with Gregor Townsend & Stuart Hogg
The draw for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France was made in Paris today, with Scotland drawn with reigning champions South Africa and Ireland, along with the team which finishes top of the Asia/Pacific Qualification tournament and the second top side from the European qualifying competition.
Scotland Head Coach Gregor Townsend, who was on hand at BT Murrayfield to give his reaction to the draw, said he thought it was one of the toughest pools they could have got.
Speaking on the Official Scottish Rugby Podcast, Townsend said: “It’s a tough group. In terms of current world rankings, it is one of the toughest pools. When you’re one of the teams in that [pool] you know you’re going to have to play your best rugby to get out of it.
“We know Ireland well, we’ve played them twice already this year. We play South Africa every couple of years and we’re playing them next November at BT Murrayfield, so they’re not opposition we’re going into blind. We’ll get a lot out of our games against them over the next two or three years, but we know we’ll have to be at our best to get out of that pool.”
Despite the draw being made with the tournament still 21 months away, Townsend says the planning starts now both on and off the pitch.
“There will be planning which starts now, in terms of how we organise our build-up to the World Cup and which teams we play. We obviously don’t want to take on Ireland in the World Cup warm-ups when you’ve got them in your pool, so we’ll be looking at other teams.
“But really it is how you bring the best out of the group we have and potentially players outside this group, whether they are players who are injured or just missed out on selection or young players who are U20 or even a 17 or 18 year old, who would be playing professional rugby at a high standard in three years’ time.”
Scotland captain Stuart Hogg says they face a big challenge in 2023 against two of the best teams in the world and they will start building towards the Rugby World Cup now.
Speaking on the Official Scottish Rugby Podcast, Hogg said: “It’s a tough one. There is no such thing as an easy game of rugby, especially at international level.
“To be the best we need to beat the best and we’re going to be up against the current world champions and that’ll be a huge test for us, but one we’ll be looking forward to nearer the time.
“We’ve played Ireland a lot and we know the challenges they come with. For us it’s all about building towards the world cup now.”