RWC 2019 Qualifiers to begin this weekend in the Americas
Story Source : Americas Rugby News
RWC 2019 Qualifiers are to begin this weekend in the Americas with St Vincent and the Grenadines hosting Jamaica in Kingstown on Saturday, March 05.
In an effort to promote the occasion World Rugby has allocated the officiating to Nigel Owens. The Welshman refereed the Rugby World Cup 2015 final between Australia and winners, New Zealand. It follows on from the Rugby World Cup 2015 opening qualifier between Mexico and Jamaica which was officiated by the Rugby World Cup 2011 whistle blower, Craig Joubert.
For the Caribbean island nations of St Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica the match is about more than the dream of reaching an inaugural Rugby World Cup. It is an opportunity to capture the imagination of the local community at a time when there will be great attention from the outside world than ever before.
The William Webb Ellis Cup has been flown to the Caribbean and will be on display throughout the week as well as on the field when the players enter to dispute the qualifying fixture.
Rugby World Cup 2019 will be played in Japan in three and a half years time. Up for grabs are eight qualification spots with more than 90 countries competing for the right to play in the sport’s 9th global event.
When the final qualifier has been confirmed there will have been roughly 200 matches played.
All participants will be known by November 2018.
Detailed analysis of the qualification process Below.
The governing body of rugby, World Rugby has unveiled an altered qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2019 which will be held in Japan. Revealed are where the 8 qualifying countries will come from with some continental regions having advantages over others.
The 8 qualifying teams will join the 12 pre-qualified countries from Rugby World Cup 2015. That is, the 8 Quarter Finals and the 4 teams who finished third in their respective pools. Those who are already confirmed for Japan 2019 are New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, France, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Georgia, England, Japan and Italy.
World Rugby has structured the qualification format to prevent historically strong countries from falling through the cracks. Fiji, Samoa and Tonga all failed to qualify directly but the path to 2019 will enable all to qualify and the same is true for Canada and the USA who also performed below expectations in England 2015.
Uruguay, on the other hand, has received no advantages. Los Teros will be required to qualify in a manner reminiscent to that of 2015. First Uruguay will need to win the South American section and then face the North American runner-up with the loser of this fixture entering the updated version of the Final Place Play-off.
The stand-alone round-robin repechage tournament will determine the 20th and final team to qualify for Rugby World Cup 2019. Competing will be the next in line from the respective continental regions. Potentially the four could be Hong Kong, Kenya, Spain and Uruguay.
Despite Japan being the host nation and the country having qualified directly by finishing 3rd in Pool B, at the recent World Cup, Asia will not receive an automatic spot. Should a second Asian team qualify for Japan 2019 it will be via repechage.
An additional controversy is that Namibia will retain its status of having the easiest path of all to the World Cup. Namibia can qualify again without facing any team ranked in the world’s top 25. Spain, Russia, Chile, Hong Kong and South Korea and are all ranked higher than Namibia’s toughest opponent based on current World Rankings, Zimbabwe. Similarly, Uruguay is ranked above Namibia.
|Automatic Qualifiers (12)||New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Ireland, Scotland, France, Wales, Georgia, Japan, England and Italy|
|Europe (1)||The highest-ranked team from the Rugby Europe Championship (excluding Georgia) will qualify for RWC 2019|
|Oceania (2)||Two teams to qualify for RWC 2019 from a Pacific Tri-Nations championship played on a home and away basis over June 2016 and 2017.|
|Europe / Oceania play-off (1)||3rd from Pacific Tri-Nations vs second-ranked team in the Rugby Europe (excluding Georgia) qualifiers. Games to be played home and away. Loser enters repechage|
|Americas (2)||Winner of Canada vs USA home and away qualifies directly. Runner-up faces South American winner (excluding Argentina) home and away. Winner qualifies, loser enters repecharge.|
|Africa (1)||Winner of Rugby Africa Championship qualifies directly. Runner-up enters repecharge.|
|Asia / Oceania play-off (1)||Highest ranked Asian team (excluding Japan) from Asian Rugby Championship will play home and away vs winner of Oceania Cup with winner qualifying for repechage.|
|Repechage (1)||Four teams playing in a round-robin format with winners qualifying as the 20th and final participant for Rugby World Cup 2019.|