Final places at 2019 Rugby World Cup still to be decided

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Final places at 2019 Rugby World Cup still to be decided
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 02: The Webb Ellis Cup pictured during the Rugby World Cup 2019 match schedule announcement at Grand Prince Hotel Shin Takanawa on November 2, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Four national rugby teams hold hopes of attending the 2019 Rugby World Cup, with home-and-away qualifier matches that will (ultimately) complete the RWC schedule and teams list.

Samoa and Germany first meet in a direct qualifier series of matches, that will see one reach Pool AHong Kong and the Cook Islands will match each other, to then qualify to the four-team repechage tournament; scheduled for November.

From all the Tier Two teams whom have forged to attend the World Rugby pinnacle event, it now reaches the critical point for these sides. Each have won their regional matches, outlasted their rivals, and are one step closer to their final objective.

Final places at 2019 Rugby World Cup still to be decided

Those hopes now rest on the ability of players, coaches and in the efforts of the combined teams, to cement their place for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

This opened on Saturday, with the primary Rugby World Cup playoff series; when Samoa invited Germany to visit Apia Park, for the opening clash.

66-15 first-leg play-off victory over Germany

Manu Samoa continued that nations proud history, with a first-up exquisite performance. The match report from World Rugby is glowing, of the focus by the Samoan men. Germany; more than likely out of their comfort zone, would find the conditions beyond them. But, the return leg will still hold a glimmer of hope for the European power.

Recovering the 39 point advantage must now be the key, to any chance that Germany may hold of an World Cup berth. To beat Samoa by that margin is an monumental task. Saturday July 14 will be a seminal day for the union – in their hopes of reaching the World Cup and, to gain recognition and respect from Tier Two nations.

And even while the qualifying process was muddied by the Rugby Europe fracas and subsequent suspension of Spain and Romania, it should not take away from the efforts of Samoa and Germany. The winner of the playoff will secure their place at the 2019 World Cup. The loser then must return in November, for the repechage tournament [see below page].

Hong Kong and Cook Islands hope to join repechage tournament

For Hong Kong, they have swept through the Asia Rugby Championship, to find their route to the 2019 Rugby World Cup. This would be a tremendous achievement, for a side who have yet to qualify for an World Cup, and they go into the series as favourites.

The Cook Islands have found themselves in this position, due to good performances on the field in the Pacific region but also via the elimination of Tahiti – due to breaching player eligibility rules. The Cook Islands will feel that they can take-up this golden opportunity, to put their mark on the rugby landscape.

The opening match is scheduled for today, and will be streamed live on the RWC facebook page. The deciding match, will be played a week later in Hong Kong. The team which wins this playoff, will then meet three other teams at the World Rugby repechage tournament.

They meet Canada – who were defeated by Uruguay, in the Americas 2 playoff – and the ‘to be announced’ Africa 1 side, and the loser of the Samoa v Germany qualifier.

2019 Rugby World Cup qualification principles

  • One Europe/Oceania play-off qualifier: The third place team from the Pacific Nations Cup [Samoa] will play a home and away play-off with the second-ranked team in the Rugby Europe Championship [Germany] with the winner on aggregate qualifying for RWC 2019. The loser will qualify for the repechage tournament (tbc)
  • Two Americas qualifiers: Canada and USA play home and away, with the winner [USA] qualifying for RWC 2019. The loser will play home and away against the top-ranked South American team with the winner [Uruguay] qualifying for RWC 2019. The loser of this match [Canada] qualifies for the repechage tournament
  • One African qualifier: The winner of the Rugby Africa Championship will qualify for RWC 2019. The runner-up qualifies for the repechage tournament (tbc)
  • Asia/Oceania play-off for repechage place: The highest-ranked team from the Asia Rugby Championship [Hong Kong] will play home and away against the winner of the Oceania Cup [Cook Islands]. The winner on aggregate qualifying for the repechage tournament (tbc).

The repechage tournament will feature four teams playing in a round-robin format, with the winner qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. This ‘winner takes all’ tournament between four teams – including Canada – is to be held during the November test window.

Specific dates and locations are to be confirmed.

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The 2019 Rugby World Cup is scheduled to begin, on September 20 (446 days).

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