SCOTLAND will avoid England and France in the pool stage of next year’s Rugby World Cup should they qualify, but they could be placed with either New Zealand and Australia or the USA and Canada.

After the postponement of next month’s European Qualifying Tournament which was to have included their Women’s Six Nations match against Italy, Bryan Easson’s team still do not know who they will need to beat when in order to make it through to next autumn’s tournament in New Zealand. As things stand they can go through either by winning a European qualifying group or by finishing second in that group then winning a global repechage tournament, but Covid restrictions have so far prevented competition organisers from finalising dates.

Hosts and holders New Zealand qualified along with six other teams - England, France, USA, Canada, Australia and Wales - by virtue of their placings at the 2017 World Cup. South Africa and Fiji have since come through qualifying, leaving just the last three places to be filled - an Asian winner, a European winner and the winner of the repechage or final qualification tournament, which will include the Europe and Asia runners-up plus Samoa and either Kenya or Colombia.

RWC 2021 (New Zealand, 18 September to 16 October) Pool A New Zealand Australia Wales Final qualification winner Pool B Canada USA Europe 1 Asia 1 Pool C England France South Africa Fiji