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Last Updated: Friday, 22 February 2008, 12:55 GMT
Rankings to determine RWC pools
Springbok skipper John Smit celebrates with the William Webb Ellis Cup
John Smit's South Africa beat England in the World Cup final
The International Rugby Board has revealed that their world rankings will be used to seed the 12 automatic qualifiers for the 2011 World Cup.

Previously, the seeding process for the pool stages was determined by performances at past World Cups.

The 12 teams will be divided into three bands of four according to their world rankings, with one to four, five to eight and nine to 12 kept apart.

The pool draw for the 2011 event in New Zealand will take place this December.

The 12 automatic qualifiers for the 2011 World Cup are the teams that finished in the top three in each pool of the previous competition in France: South Africa, England, Tonga, Argentina, France, Ireland, Australia, Fiji, Wales, New Zealand, Scotland and Italy.

The cut-off date, at which point the rankings will be used, will be 1 December.

If the pools were drawn now, South Africa (currently ranked one), New Zealand (two), Argentina (three) and Australia (four) would be kept apart, as would England (five), France (six), Ireland (seven) and Wales (eight), and Fiji (nine), Scotland (10), Italy (11) and Tonga (13).

"The rankings are now very well established and provide us with a credible and succinct way of seeding teams for the rugby World Cup pool draw," said Rugby World Cup Ltd (RWCL) chairman Syd Millar.

"The RWCL board felt that the rankings are a more accurate record of a team's position at any given time and will provide the best possible chance of evenly-matched pools emerging from the draw."

Miller admitted organisers would have preferred to have conducted the draw closer to the competition but said they had confirmed the December date because of the logistics of holding the event in New Zealand.

Organisers confirmed that the structure of the 2011 World Cup would be the same as the previous two, with four pools of five teams and the top two qualifying for the quarter-finals.

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