by Ciarán Duffy
The World Cup 2019 draw is upon us with 12 of the 20 places already decided. The teams that have qualified by finishing in the top 3 of their 2015 World Cup pool are split into 3 bands according to their world ranking.
New Zealand, England, Australia, Ireland
Scotland, France, South Africa, Wales
Argentina, Japan, Georgia, Italy
Band 4 and Band 5 will contain teams that qualify through regional competitions and play-offs.
Oceania 1, Americas 1, Europe 1, Africa 1
Oceania 2, Americas 2, Europe/Oceania play-off winner, Repechage winner.
Let’s take a look at who could fill these remaining places
There will be a two-legged play-off between Canada and the USA. The winner of this will qualify directly for the world cup. The first leg will take place on June 24th, the second leg will take place on July 1st.
The loser of the Canada/USA playoff will have a second chance at qualifying. Canada or the USA will play the winner of the round robin group of; Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, and Paraguay. These group matches begin this Saturday (May 13th) and conclude on May 27th. This is a two-legged play-off with the winner qualifying, and the loser going into the repechage. This play-off will take place in 2018.
African qualification begins with a 6-team group of Kenya, Namibia, Senegal, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. These teams play each other between June 24th and August 5th. The top 4 ranked teams will progress to the 2018 Gold Cup to play each other in a round-robin group for direct qualification.
Oceania 1 and Oceania 2:
Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa play each other in the Pacific Nations Cup. The winners will qualify as Oceania 1, the runners-up will qualify as Oceania 2. The third place team will go into the Europe/Oceania play-off. Fiji are currently top of this group, Samoa are in second, and Tonga are in third. This group recommences on July 1st and concludes on July 15th.
The Winner of the Rugby Europe Championship will qualify as Europe 1 (unless Georgia win because they have already qualified, in the case the runner-up will qualify as Europe 1). Romania are currently 1st. Also involved in this qualifying process are; Spain, Russia, Germany, and Belgium. Belgium will have to beat Portugal in a play-off on May 20th to stay in the competition.
This European team will be decided by a play-off between the runner-up of the Rugby Europe Championship and the winner of a play-off involving a team from one of the Rugby Europe conferences and the winners of the Rugby Europe Trophy.
The Rugby Europe Conferences are split up into multiple rounds with finals. The winner of the Round 1 final (Hungary vs Bosnia Herzegovina), will play the winner of the Round 2 final (Czech Republic vs Malta) in the Round 3 final. The winner of the round 3 final will play Portugal (The winners of the Rugby Europe Trophy) in the Round 4 final. The winner of the Round 4 final will play the runner-up of the Rugby Europe Championship (unless Georgia are the runner-up, in that case it will be the 3rd place team). The winner of this match will advance to the Europe/Oceania play-off.
The Oceanian team will be the 3rd place team in the Pacific Nations Cup.
The winner of this play-off will qualify as either Oceania 3 or Europe 2. The loser will go into the Repechage.
Four teams compete in the repechage. This will be the last spot to be decided. The repechage will be a round-robin group, rather than a straight knockout tournament as it was previously.
One of these teams will be the loser of the Europe/Oceania play-off.
Another of these teams will be the winner of a play-off between the Asia Rugby Championship winners and the winners of the Oceania Cup.
This Asia Rugby Championship will see Hong Kong, South Korea, and the winner of the 2017 Asian Rugby Championship Division 1 round 2 play in a group, with the winner progressing to Asia/Oceania play-off. Division 1 Round 2 involves Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates. These games will be played between the 14th of May and the 20th of May.
The Oceania Rugby Cup involves American Samoa, the Cook Islands, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tahiti, ad Vanuatu.
The African team will be the winner of a play-off involving the runner-up of the 2018 Gold Cup vs the winner of the Silver Cup. The Silver Cup contains Botswana, Cote d'Ivoire, Madagascar, and Morocco.
The American place will be taken by the loser of the play-off between Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, & Uruguay vs the loser of Canada & the USA.
There we have it, as always it sounds a lot more complicated than it is and will all become clearer as it happens. The draw takes place this Wednesday at 9:00am Irish time.
Ciarán Duffy (@TheVoiceDepth) is a Leinster supporter and self-proclaimed ‘big cheese’ of Post To Post (@PostToPostSport). He’ll write about anything rugby under the condition he gets to take it too seriously.
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