Later this month, Scotland, Kazakhstan and Colombia will be competing in Dubai for the 12th and final ticket to New Zealand to compete in Rugby World Cup 2021.
Here’s the lowdown on the make-or-break tournament.
🗣 "They deserve that opportunity to go to Dubai and hopefully get us over that final hurdle"— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) February 2, 2022
Bryan Easson talks through his Scotland squad selection for this month’s @rugbyworldcup 2021 Final Qualification Tournament.
Full Interview: https://t.co/X9OkHgCec0 pic.twitter.com/kQekAAakb7
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
A place in Pool A at the delayed Rugby World Cup 2021. The Final Qualification Tournament winner will join hosts New Zealand, Australia and Wales.
WHAT’S THE FORMAT?
Asian representatives Kazakhstan meet South American qualifiers Colombia in the semi-final at The Sevens Stadium with the winner going forward to play top seeds Scotland in a one-off match to determine the final qualifier.
The semi-final takes place on Saturday, 19 February (kick-off 16:30 local time / 12:30 GMT), while the final is on Friday, 25 February, (kick-off 19:00 local time / 15:00 GMT).
HOW DID THEY GET THIS FAR?
Scotland earned their place in Dubai after a last-gasp victory over Ireland saw them finish as runners-up to Italy in the RWC 2021 Europe Qualifier in Parma in September.
Colombia defeated African challengers Kenya 16-15 in a play-off in Nairobi at the end of August, in what was their first international since March 2020, while Kazakhstan automatically qualified after the Asia Rugby Championship was cancelled due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
WHO ARE FAVOURITES?
According to the formbook and the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini, Scotland are favourites to progress through to their first Rugby World Cup since 2010.
The Scots are currently ranked at an all-time high of ninth – some six places higher than Kazakhstan and 17 more than Colombia.
WHAT’S THE FORM OF THE TEAMS?
Scotland are on a three-game winning run after victories over Spain (27-22), Ireland (20-18) and Japan (36-12).
Kazakhstan have not played test rugby since 2019 when they drew their series with China one match apiece to remain in the hunt for RWC 2021, so are a bit of an unknown quantity.
Colombia are also short of game time having not had a run out since that victory in Nairobi, although they will play Spain A in a warm-up match on Thursday, 10 February.
HAVE ANY OF THE TEAMS BEEN TO A RUGBY WORLD CUP BEFORE?
Scotland have competed in five tournaments since their first appearance in 1994 when they hosted the event and achieved a best-ever finish of fifth. Their last appearance, however, was in 2010.
Kazakhstan have a rich Rugby World Cup pedigree, too, competing in six consecutive tournaments from 1994 through to 2014 with a best finish of ninth, achieved on two occasions in 1994 and 1998.
Rugby World Cup 2021 would be Colombia’s first tournament.
WHERE CAN I WATCH IT?
The RWC 2021 Final Qualification Tournament will be live-streamed across World Rugby and RWC 2021 digital and social platforms.
HOW ARE THE SQUADS SHAPING UP?
Loughborough Lightning forward Rachel Malcolm will lead an experienced Scotland squad that boasts 629 caps in total, 337 of them in the pack and 292 in the backs.
Malcolm's Loughborough team-mate, Emma Wassell, is the most-capped player with 51 appearances, closely followed by barnstorming number eight and trained firefighter, Jade Konkel (48), fellow forward Lana Skeldon (47) and playmaker Sarah Law (47).
Head coach Bryan Easson includes two uncapped players in Edinburgh University pair, Eva Donaldson and Meryl Smith, while Inverness-born Caity Mattinson is in line to win her first cap for Scotland after making seven international appearances for England.
Colombia are captained by Leidy Soto. One of the original World Rugby ‘Unstoppables’, Soto has taken over the captaincy from Nicole Acevedo, who led Las Tucanes to the 16-15 victory against Kenya in Nairobi that confirmed their place in Dubai.
The 29-player squad contains three players who appeared at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Alejandra Betancur, Camila Lopera and Isabel Romero.
Lopera, Romero and Soto, meanwhile, are among eight women included who played in the World Rugby Sevens Repechage in Monaco last June.
After her match-winning exploits against Kenya in Nairobi, Colombia will look to exciting winger Maria Isabel Arzuaga to give them a cutting edge out wide. Arzuaga scored all 16 of her side’s points in that win over the Lionesses.
Unlike Scotland and Colombia, Kazakhstan’s squad contains players with previous Rugby World Cup experience.
Lyudmila Sherer, the most-capped player with 30 appearances, Veronika Stepanyuga, Nigora Nurmatova, Kundyzay Baktybayeva, Balzhan Koishybayeva and Natalya Kamendrovskaya have all competed on the game’s greatest stage.
Centre Alina Askerova and full-back Yekaterina Kamenkova scored tries in Kazakhstan’s last outing, a 15-0 win over China in 2019, and are also included in the touring party.
All bar three of the squad come from Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest metropolis.
FINAL QUALIFICATION TOURNAMENT SQUADS:
Alejandra Betancur, Angela Alzate Moncada, Natalia Barajas, Ailyn Carolina Andrioly Gonzalez, Maribel Mestra, Julieth Tatiana Hernandez, Laura Valentina Alvarez Silva, Catalina Arango, Yamileth Andrea Ramirez Agudelo, Camila Lopera, Laura Mejia, Valentina Tapias, Valeria Muñoz Cuartas, Isabel Romero, Leidy Soto (captain), Maria Isabel Arzuaga, Leidy García, Yina Marcela Quintero Verjel, Annagith Marsellis Vargas Torres, Juliana Soto, Gales Daian Avendaño, Gisel Tatiana Gomez Gomez, Silvia Juliana Olave Garrido, Lizbeth Joanna Brant Restrepo, Maira Alejandra Martínez, Maira Atonia Cortes, María Camila Castrillón, Angie Manyoma, Gloribeth Campos.
Veronika Stepanuyga, Nigora Nurmatova, Alina Askerova, Daiana Kazibekova, Galina Krassavina, Yekaterina Kamenkova, Kundyzay Baktybayeva, Anzhelika Pichugina, Akzharkynay Zholdaspayeva, Balzhan Koishibayeva, Darya Tkachyova, Lyudmila Sherer, Karina Sazintova, Natalya Kamendrovskaya, Liliya Kibisheva, Adina Makhsutova, Moldir Ashkat, Xeniya Kim, Alyona Drobovskaya, Milana Alayeva, Svetlana Malezhina, Blazhan Akhbayeva, Darya Simakova, Anastassiya Khodus, Yekaterina Ardashirova, Anna Melnikova, Amina Tulegenova, Diana Abisheva, Yelena Yurova, Svetlana Obukhoya.
Forwards: Leah Bartlett, Christine Belisle, Sarah Bonar, Lisa Cockburn, Katie Dougan, Eva Donaldson, Evie Gallagher, Jade Konkel, Rachel Malcolm (captain), Rachel McLachlan, Louise McMillan, Lyndsay O’Donnell, Lana Skeldon, Emma Wassell, Molly Wright, Anne Young.
Backs: Shona Campbell, Megan Gaffney, Coreen Grant, Sarah Law, Rhona Lloyd, Caity Mattinson, Jenny Maxwell, Mairi McDonald, Musgrove, Helen Nelson, Chloe Rollie, Meryl Smith, Lisa Thomson, Evie Wills.