World Rugby, and hosts New Zealand Rugby (NZR), have confirmed that New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is set to participate in the Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw.
The Prime Minister will join Rugby World Cup winners Melodie Robinson, Dr Farah Palmer and Dan Carter as special guests drawing the balls for the ninth edition of the showcase event. Robinson will be a representative of the Rugby World Cup Board, having recently been appointed to the board.
The event, hosted at SkyCity Theatre in Auckland on Friday, 20 November 2020, will be broadcast live on SPARK and live-streamed on World Rugby digital channels from 07:15 NZT / 18:15 GMT (Thursday, 19 November)
Global audiences can tune into World Rugby’s Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw Show, hosted by leading rugby presenters Elma Smit and Ugo Monye.
The show, which will be live-streamed across World Rugby digital channels, will give fans exclusive behind-the-scenes access from the draw and feature player interviews from participating nations, before and after the main event.
Rugby World Cup 2021 is set to break new ground as the ninth edition of the tournament is hosted in the southern hemisphere for the first time, taking place from 18 September-16 October 2021 across three match venues.
Also for the first time in the tournament’s history, the World Rugby Women’s Rankings will be used to determine the draw seedings and bands for the seven direct qualifiers in bands one to three, with the five teams to emerge from the qualification process to be placed into band three and four.
Seven teams qualified directly for RWC 2021 courtesy of a top-seven finish at the last tournament in Ireland in 2017, defending champions New Zealand, runners-up England, bronze medallists France, USA, Canada, Australia and Wales.
Fiji and South Africa confirmed their places through the regional qualification process back in 2019, via the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup and Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship.
The remaining three places will be filled by a qualifier from Asia and Europe together with the winner of the Final Qualification Tournament, a first for a women’s Rugby World Cup, offering a second opportunity for teams to qualify. Kenya Lionesses were scheduled to play against Columbia in a Repechage clash which was slated for 18 April 2020 but was postponed due to COVID-19.
The bands are:
Band 1– New Zealand, England, Canada
Band 2– France, Australia, USA
Band 3– Wales, Europe 1, South Africa
Band 4– Asia 1, Fiji, Final Qualifier winner