Holders South Africa could face hosts France at Rugby World Cup 2023 with the draw for the swimming pool steps in Paris on Monday with a cloud hanging over the sport.
The Springboks are the top seeds alongside finalists England, three-time winners of New Zealand and Wales with Les Bleus joined by Australia, Ireland and Japan last year in the second group.
The head trauma issue will be on display at the Palais Brongniart, the former headquarters of the French stock exchange, less than a week after a host of former internationals said they were planning legal action against rugby authorities in cause of a concussion.
Former England hooker Steve Thompson said he had no recollection of lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy in 2003 and was diagnosed in November with dementia precocious and probable CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).
The proposed action is directed against World Rugby, Rugby Football Union and Welsh Rugby Union, for “failure to protect (the claimants) against the risks caused by concussions”.
Elsewhere, the Pacific Rugby Players Welfare (PRPW), a professional association from the Pacific Islands, wrote an open letter to Bill Beaumont on Saturday asking for fairer hours during the tournament in three years.
The PRPW said lower-ranked nations like Samoa, Fiji and Tonga have had less time to recover between matches in previous editions of the World Cup.
“We are asking because it is the right thing to do for the good of the game at this critical moment in the history of the game,” said PRPW chairman and former Samoa lock, Dan Leo.
“But it also represents a long overdue commitment by World Rugby to equality and fair play.
“It has to be understood for what it is: the stronger handicapping the weaker. And these questions are beyond debate. Imbalanced timetables and compromised governance structures speak for themselves, ”he added.
France, who are hosting the competition for the second time, impressed under new head coach Fabien Galthie, but captain Charles Ollivon refused to be carried away by their home chances.
“It’s a great moment, we’re a little excited to know who we’re going to start against and our hen,” Ollivon told Canal + on Sunday.
“All the players, we are aware of the task ahead.
“However, we have a lot of work to do, a lot of battles to win, before 2023”, he added.
Fiji, Italy, Scotland and Argentina are the other four nations that reached the tournament automatically after finishing in the top three of their group in Japan.
They will be joined by eight qualifiers whose final composition will be known on November 22.