The top 10 standout results of 2022
We pick out the biggest upsets in a year of surprises.
As people around the world begin to say goodbye to 2022, we herald in the New Year with a look ahead to what lies in store over the next 12 months.
Here are some of the highlights of what is to come in 2023.
The race to be crowned men’s and women’s HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series 2023 champions will continue at the end of January when the circuit returns to Hamilton and Sydney for the first time in three years.
Neither city has hosted a Series tournament since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the wait is nearly over, with combined events taking place on consecutive weekends from 21 January.
New Zealand will hope to continue their fine start to both the men’s and women’s 2023 Series on home soil in Hamilton.
The Black Ferns Sevens will start the tournament level on points with Australia at the top of the women’s standings, while the All Blacks Sevens are joint-third, just three points off Samoa and South Africa.
The men’s Series is particularly close following three tournaments, with only 13 points separating the sides in first and ninth.
With vital points up for grabs as teams chase both the title and qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, it means fans should be in for a treat.
Once the tournament in Hamilton has wrapped up, attention will drift across the Tasman Sea to Sydney, where Australia will play in front of a home crowd for the first time as both men’s and women’s Series champions.
There is plenty to look forward to in the rest of the Series too, including a first ever joint tournament in Hong Kong at the end of March.
The Women’s Six Nations 2023 will get underway at the end of March and there is arguably more riding on this year’s Championship than ever before.
England will be keen to get over their Rugby World Cup 2021 final disappointment when they kick off their quest for a fifth successive tournament clean sweep.
Meanwhile, France will have designs on a first title since 2018 and Wales, Italy, Ireland and Scotland will hope to highlight their continued development.
However, with WXV set to start later in 2023, there will be more than the Championship on the line in northern Europe.
Whoever finishes in the top three of this year’s Women’s Six Nations will take their place in the top tier of WXV for its first two editions.
For the other teams and those in the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship 2023 – defending champions Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden – placings will play a part in qualification for WXV.
Regional tournaments held throughout 2023 will determine the identity of the remaining participants in the first two editions of WXV.
The top three teams from the World Rugby Pacific Four Series 2023 will compete in WXV 1, while the fourth will take their place in the second tier alongside one team from Oceania, one from Asia and another from Africa.
One team each from Asia, Oceania, Africa and South America will complete the WXV 3 line-up, meanwhile.
WXV has been designed to revolutionise the women’s international rugby landscape and will also provide teams with a qualification pathway to the expanded 16-team RWC 2025. At least the five top ranked non-qualified teams at the end of WXV 2024 will book their tickets to England.
In men’s test rugby, all roads lead to France and Rugby World Cup 2023 where the hosts will hope they can get their hands on the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time.
Les Bleus will get the tournament underway on 8 September when they take on New Zealand in a mouth-watering opening night encounter at Stade de France.
Both teams are among those dreaming of a return to Paris for the final on 28 October, where the winner of the 10th men’s Rugby World Cup will be crowned.
Fans travelling to France, or watching on from home, should be treated to some fantastic rugby over the tournament’s seven weeks.
As well as Les Bleus’ meeting with the All Blacks, the pool stage will feature a Rugby World Cup debut for Chile, a first tournament assignment in 16 years for Portugal and a match between heavyweights South Africa and Ireland.
But with so many tests to be played before the opening ceremony at Stade de France – including a men’s Six Nations and The Rugby Championship – and some teams adapting to new coaching set-ups, it is difficult to make too many predictions just yet.
What we do know is that the 10th edition of the men’s Rugby World Cup promises to be one that you do not want to miss.