Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifiers took place on four continents over the weekend with one team confirming their place in France in two years’ time and another three eliminated from the process.
Samoa will compete at a ninth consecutive tournament after a 37-15 victory over Tonga in the second leg of the Oceania 1 play-off.
Despite being beaten over two legs by an aggregate score of 79-28, Tonga remain in the hunt for a place at RWC 2023 and will take on the Cook Islands on Saturday. The winner of that match will compete in the Asia/Pacific play-off.
However for three African teams – Madagascar, Zambia and Ghana – the dream is over after this weekend’s matches in the Rugby Africa 2021 all but concluded the second stage of the region’s qualification process.
With just one match left to be played, the draw for next year’s competition has taken shape and eight teams are left in the hunt for the Africa 1 spot at Rugby World Cup 2023.
The Rugby Africa Cup 2022 will adopt a straight knockout format, featuring four quarter-finals, two semi-finals and a final with the winner joining New Zealand, hosts France, Italy and the Americas 1 qualifier in Pool A.
Six-time Rugby World Cup participants Namibia finished top of Pool A in the Rugby Africa Cup 2021 and will take on the second-place team in Pool D.
As things stand, that will be Burkina Faso unless they can pull off a miracle and beat Zimbabwe by a 99-point margin this Thursday.
On Sunday, the Sables defeated Burkina Faso 101-3 in the first encounter of a two-legged shootout for the top spot in Pool D.
Barring a disastrous result in the rematch with Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe will be confirmed as winners of Pool D and take on the Ivory Coast in what is a meeting of two former Rugby World Cup participants.
Zimbabwe competed at the 1987 and 1991 tournaments and the Ivory Coast’s sole appearance was in South Africa in 1995.
Senegal’s wait to see who they would play as Pool B winners is now over following the completion of Pool C.
Having bounced back from a 53-12 loss to Uganda in their opening game with a 22-20 victory against Algeria in midweek, Ghana were favourites to finish as Pool C runners-up behind Uganda.
However, Algeria managed to pull off a shock 22-16 win against the higher-ranked Uganda in Sunday’s final game and take second spot instead.
Uganda, Algeria and Ghana each won a match apiece but Ghana’s failure to secure a bonus point in either of their two matches was crucial.
Kessler keeps Uruguay on track
Uruguay defeated Chile 15-10 in the second match of the Sudamérica Rugby 3 Naciones and will win the triangular tournament if they avoid defeat against Brazil in Montevideo this Saturday.
Chile beat Brazil 23-13 in the first game of the Sudamérica Rugby 3 Naciones and currently lead the standings on five points to Uruguay’s four.
Germán Kessler continued the trend of try-scoring hookers with a brace as Los Teros came from behind against Los Cóndores.
Los Teros trailed 10-7 at the break but a penalty from Felipe Berchesi and Kessler’s second try proved sufficient for the home side to pull through.
Meanwhile, Portugal picked up five valuable points in the race for the two automatic qualification places available to European teams.
Os Lobos scored five tries and were awarded another in a 49-26 win that all but confirms them as runners-up behind champions Georgia in the Rugby Europe Championship 2021.
Romania would need a big bonus-point win against the Netherlands in their final fixture in November to edge Os Lobos on points difference and deny them their highest finish in 17 years.
With 14 points to take into next season’s Rugby Europe Championship Portugal look well-positioned to secure the Europe 2 qualification spot. Georgia will carry forward 23 points and are overwhelming favourites to go to France in two years’ time as Europe 1.