The Runner Sports

2019 Rugby World Cup: Post ’17 June International Update

Just over two months ago, the foundation of 2019 Rugby World Cup pools was announced. Twelve teams, through virtue of the previous World Cup finishes, had already punched their tickets to Japan. Another eight slots remained open for regionally and general qualifications. After the June International window, three new teams grace the field.

Updated 2019 Rugby World Cup Pools

Pool A Pool B Pool C Pool D
Ireland New Zealand England Australia
Scotland South Africa France Wales
Japan Italy Argentina Georgia
Europe 1 Africa 1 USA Fiji
Playoff Winner Repechage Winner Tonga Americas 2

USA claimed its first ever Americas 1 bidding following a two-game series win over their northern brethren, Canada. The Eagles will join a daunting field loaded with a pair of Europe’s best and their South American foe, Argentina in Pool C. The Eagles have claimed just three World Cup victories in their history, and their path ahead looks no easier to ascertain their next.

Joining the Eagles in Pool C will be Tonga, winners of Oceania 2 after an about face saw them erase a one-point first-year leg of the two-year Pacific Nations Cup. A dominating 38-16 win for Fiji over Samoa in the final round blocking the potential bonus point that could have drawn the two sides even in the standings; two losing bonus points enough to put the 13th ranked Tongans through, despite winning just one game through the four-game round-robin tournament.

Fiji will claim Oceania 1 and take their place in Pool D after thoroughly working their Pacific island brothers. The 10th ranked Fijians will look to bounce back after a disappointing five-point, one-win effort in pool play of the 2015 World Cup. It might have some rumblings of deja vu for the Flying Fijians as they met Australia and Wales in the ’15 edition of the tournament, both of whom went on to the knockout stages; the Wallabies advancing to the final, where they would lose to New Zealand, 34-17. They’ll also see Georgia in pool play and whoever emerges from Americas 2.

With some additional tickets punched, all is not lost for those who find themselves on the losing side and outside looking in on the current action after June. The aforementioned teams (Samoa and Canada) will still have a pair of ways to qualify for the field yet. But it’ll be some time before we have international games with direct World Cup ramifications again.

 

Gone But Not Forgotten

Oceania 3

Samoa will slide into a playoff with the winner of a match between the second place finisher of the combined 2017/18 Rugby Europe Championship and the winner of Portugal/Czech Republic as Oceania 3. A win there will send them to the field as Playoff Winner in Pool A, but a loss will result in their qualifying for the Repechage tournament.

For other Oceania nations, the winner of the 2017 Oceania Cup –a final match set to be played August 4 between Cook Island and Tahiti– will face off with the winner of the 2018 Asia Rugby Championship (Hong Kong, Malaysia, and South Korea) for a place in the Repechage tournament, loser is out of qualifying options.

 

Americas 2

Canada will need to find their legs and put a year of less than ideal finishes against their American competitors behind them and top the winner of the 2017 South American Rugby Championship, Uruguay. Canada finished the 2017 Americas Rugby Championship with just one win. The two sides last clashed there back in February, with Uruguay taking the win, 17-13. The teams will meet in January 2018, that winner will take Americas 2.

The loser will still possess one final way in making the field, as they will automatically earn a berth into the Repechage tournament. That field’s difficulty remains to be seen, and no doubt an assured win to punch their tickets would be the preferred route for either side.

“This is not the result we have been working towards, but we are confident we will qualify in the second round,” said Jim Dixon, Rugby Canada’s general manager of rugby operations and performance following their series loss to USA. “We will now be conducting a comprehensive review of the June Tour, as part of our standard protocol, including all aspects of our technical, tactical, and logistical protocols as well as player and staff performances.”

 

Left To Be Seen

Europe 1

With Georgia already qualified, Europe 1 is a pretty straightforward draw. The top remaining finisher from the 2017 & 2018 Rugby Europe Championship will jump automatically into the field, currently led by Romania following 2017’s leg. Spain currently idles in second but trails Romania narrowly with Russia knocking on their own door.

The next best team (Europe 2) will meet the regional European playoff winner (Portugal vs Czech Republic November 18) for the right to face the third place finisher of the Pacific Nations Cup, Samoa, in a two-game home/away series; the winner will qualify for the Playoff Winner place in Pool A, the loser will slot into the Repechage tournament.

 

Africa 1

This will be an easy enough scenario to follow as this distinction will go to the winner of the 2018 Africa Cup. How the Africa works is a tale not so easily told. Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Senegal, Uganda, and Zimbabwe all still vie for an automatic berth. The six sides will meet in a round-robin tournament next year. The winner of that will earn Africa 1.

If the winner and/or runner-up of the 2018 Africa Cup is not Morocco, the second place finisher of that field will meet the first place finisher of Division 1B (Morocco) for a chance at the Repechage tournament.

 

Repechage

Following all of the regional qualifications, the Repechage will be a four-team round-robin tournament comprised of the best regionally remaining non-qualified teams to earn the final designation for the 2019 Rugby World Cup field, the winner of which will slot into the already daunting looking Pool B.

Tyler Arnold

Tyler Arnold

I am the founder and editor-in-chief of The Runner Sports. I've been an avid sports fan since I was a child and have turned that love into a profession. I will watch, comment, and break down anything I can get my hands on, from football to white water rafting in the Olympics. Your visit means a lot to me, so thank you for your readership.
Tyler Arnold