TOKYO, 13 NOVEMBER 2015 (INSIDE THE GAMES) ----World Rugby has announced the regional and cross-regional qualification process for the 2019 World Cup in Japan, where a further eight teams will secure their spot at the tournament.
A total of 12 countries - New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Ireland, Scotland, France, Wales, Georgia, Japan, England and Italy – have already qualified after they finished in the top three of their respective pools at the recent World Cup in England.
They will be joined at the event in Japan, the first edition of the quadrennial competition to be staged in Asia, by the highest-ranked team at the Rugby Europe Championship, excluding already-qualified Georgia.
Two sides will book their place from the Oceania region through the Pacific Tri-Nations Championship, contested by Fiji, Tonga and Samoa, played on a home and away basis during June 2016 and 2017.
The team which finishes third at the Pacific Tri-Nations event will then play-off with the second-ranked nation in the Rugby Europe Championship, with the winner decided on aggregate over two legs.
Canada and USA will play home and away, with the victor earning a berth at the World Cup.
The loser of the two-legged contest will have a second chance of qualifying as they will play the top-ranked South American team home and away, with the side which emerges triumphant also booking their ticket to Japan.
The other direct continental qualifier will come from Africa as the winner of the Rugby Africa Championship will seal their spot at the event in four years’ time.
A repechage tournament is due to decide the final place at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, featuring four teams in a round-robin format.
It will include the team which suffers defeat in the play-off between the third-placed side at the Pacific Tri-Nations tournament and the Rugby Europe Championship as well as the loser of the Americas play off and the second-placed team at the Rugby Africa Championship.
The final nation at the repechage tournament will be decided by a play-off between the highest-ranked team from the Asian Rugby Championship, excluding Japan, who have already qualified, and the winner of the Oceania Cup.
The qualification of Japan, already assured of a place at the competition by virtue of being the host nation, through the Rugby World Cup means the team which reigns supreme at the Asian Rugby Championship will not secure a direct spot at the tournament.
“Rugby World Cup 2015 was the most compelling and competitive Rugby World Cup to date, demonstrating the ever-increasing competitiveness of the world game in 15s,” World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset said.
“We are committed to further increase competiveness at international level and the Rugby World Cup 2019 regional qualification process is designed to give all full member unions an opportunity to qualify, while delivering the best teams on merit.
“With interest in rugby currently at an all-time high in Japan, the formalisation of the qualification process, coupled with confirmation of the tournament dates, means that teams and fans alike can now begin the process of planning and preparation.”....PACNEWS