World Rugby have confirmed that the Rugby World Cup is set to be expanded to include 24 teams from the current 20 by the 2023 tournament.
The World Cup has featured 20 teams since the 1999 tournament in Wales, but World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper says it is highly likely that next year’s tournament in Japan will be the last to do so.
“We’re always looking from an expansive point of view rather than reducing, so it’s just a question of when rather than if,” Gosper told British media.
“We want to make sure the teams are competitive enough to move to a 24-team tournament. We have assumed 20 for 2023 but we could change that between now and 2023.
“The tendency for us is to try and look to expand. It’s about growing the global game — getting interest from fans and commercial interest in new markets.
“But you’ve got to make sure you’ve got the teams. We’re definitely in an expansive mindset, is how I’d put it.”
19 of the 20 teams for next year’s global showpiece have booked their places, with the final country to be decided at a repechage tournament in Marseille in November.