World Rugby has confirmed a revision to the RWC 2021 Asia qualification pathway that delivers certainty for teams Japan, Hong Kong and Kazakhstan in light of ongoing travel and quarantine challenges as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As the highest ranked team in the region, Japan will automatically qualify for Rugby World Cup 2021 and will now join USA, Canada and recently qualified team Italy in Pool B. Kazakhstan and Hong Kong will compete in a play-off match to determine which team progresses to the Final Qualification Tournament.

The decision, which provides important certainty to the teams, is supported by all unions and enables teams to plan and optimise their high-performance programmes ahead of the pinnacle event in New Zealand next year. 

World Rugby will continue to work closely with Hong Kong and Kazakhstan and details of the play-off will be announced at a later date.

The RWC Board has endorsed the recommended revision.