Hosts France could face holders South Africa in the group stages of the 2023 Rugby World Cup after World Rugby announced on Friday changes to the seeding system.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, seeding levels for the tournament draw held on December 14 in Paris will be based on world rankings on January 1 2020 instead of after the Autumn internationals as originally intended.

“While Covid-19 means that, in the interests of fairness for all qualified teams, we have needed to draw a line under the rankings at the beginning of the year, everyone should appreciate that this is a unique time, we can’t delay,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said.


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