Australia have been drawn with Fiji and Wales in Pool C for the next Rugby World Cup. A qualifier from Europe and a fifth team will join the group before the tournament starts in early September 2023.
This is the third consecutive RWC Australia will play Fiji and Wales. They were foes in England in 2015 and again in Japan, 2019.
“There’s no easy pool. The three sides that are confirmed in this pool are all really tough,” said Wallabies head coach David Rennie.
“Fiji has got amazing athletes and with Vern Cotter in charge, he’ll give them an edge which will be a real difference. We’re all three years away. Our teams are going to change a lot.”
The Wallabies won the Rugby World Cup in 1991 and 1999. They lost finals in 2003 and 2015. They’ve finished third once – in 2011 – and fourth – in 1987. The remainder of their RWC appearances comprise three quarter-final finishes – in 1995, 2007 and 2019.
Some new Australian betting sites have priced the teams involved in the 2023 showpiece early. Unibet and bet365 have had Australia offered at 9/1 for the title. New Zealand, England, South Africa and France are among the favourites.
Michael Hooper is a veritable talisman for Australian rugby and, currently 29 years old, should be available for their 2023 World Cup campaign. Hooper recently won a third John Eales Medal on the back of a difficult season that called his captaincy into question.
He won the accolade in 2013 and 2016, too, but his 2020 trophy was arguably the toughest of the lot to achieve. Hooper led the Wallabies to just one win and three draws in six attempts during a shortened season.
“Michael is an incredible rugby player, an outstanding captain and an excellent leader on-and-off the field,” said Rugby Australia interim chief executive officer Rob Clarke.
“The way he conducts himself is a credit to him and the values he lives his life by, and we congratulate him on his achievement.
“All our winners thoroughly deserve the accolades in what has been a challenging 2020.”
Elsewhere in the Rugby World Cup draw, the All Blacks were grouped with France and Italy. New Zealand head coach Ian Foster is looking forward to a particularly taxing challenge against France.
“It’s going to be very special. I have no doubt they will organise a superb World Cup,” said Foster.
“We’ve watched with admiration the way they’re rebuilding their team and are building something special for 2023.
“For us to know the size of the challenge has given us a clear focus and one we can’t wait for,” he added.
Three-time RWC winners South Africa were drawn alongside Ireland and Scotland. England have Japan and Scotland in their pool.
“It’s a great pool to be a part of,” said England captain Owen Farrell.
“Obviously with the way that Japan and Argentina are going at the minute, some of the rugby that has been played over the last few years by them both, it’s going to be a tough pool.”
South Africa captain Siya Kolisi added: “It’s exciting, really, to know who your RWC pool opponents will be. We are looking forward to the event and hopefully we can put in some stronger performances again. We will look to do our nation proud as always.”
In 2019, Kolisi’s team defied difficult odds to romp to a third title. South Africa also won the RWC in 1995, beating New Zealand in the final, and 2007, overcoming England in that final. They beat England in the 2019 final again. Kolisi will likely lead the Springboks through to the 2023 RWC, too.