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McKee Happy With New Format

The Vodafone Flying Fijians are almost certain to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. This was after the World Rugby has announced details of the regional qualification
14 Nov 2015 09:00
McKee Happy With New Format
John McKee

The Vodafone Flying Fijians are almost certain to qualify for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
This was after the World Rugby has announced details of the regional qualification process for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Despite Fiji, Samoa and Tonga not claiming an automatic berth after finishing fourth in their pools at the 2015 RWC last month, there is an opportunity all three Pacific Island nations will qualify.
Two teams will qualify from the new Pacific Tri-Nations competition across June 2016 and 2017 and further opportunity via a new Europe/Oceania play-off. Additionally, the Oceania Cup winners will play the highest-ranked Asian Rugby Championship team for a place in the repechage tournament.
Vodafone Flying Fijians head coach John McKee was grateful with the news yesterday.
“I’m very, very happy,” McKee said.
“We had talks with World Rugby and I’m extremely delighted they have formulated a new process whereby Fiji, Tonga and Samoa stand a good chance of qualifying.
“But from Fiji’s perspective we need to keep our top status in the region as the top-ranked Pacific team in 2017 and will get a chance to play Australia.
“We need quality opposition so it could provide us with a better platform to select the best players for the World Cup in Japan.”
McKee will attend the World Rugby conference in Los Angeles, USA later this month.
McKee said test matches would be crucial in their preparation for the 2019 RWC in Japan.
“We need to review the 2015 RWC, what went well for the Tier Two teams and what things we need to do better,” McKee said.
“We will also be looking at the test schedules going forward.”
With 12 teams having secured their place courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools at the 2015 RWC, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers which will begin next year and, for the first time, a stand-alone round-robin repechage tournament to determine the final qualifier in 2018. All teams will be determined by November 2018.
The announcement follows consultation with unions and regions and a full review of performance at RWC 2015 where rankings upsets and impressive performances cut the competition gap significantly from 2011, with the average winning margin between Tier One and Tier Two unions down from 36 to 30 points.

RWC 2019 qualification principles
12 automatic qualifiers: Top three teams in each RWC 2015 pool automatically qualify for Japan 2019 (New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Ireland, Scotland, France, Wales, Georgia, Japan, England and Italy)
One European qualifier: The highest-ranked team from the Rugby Europe Championship (excluding Georgia) will qualify for RWC 2019
Two Oceania qualifiers: Two teams to qualify for RWC 2019 from a Pacific Tri-Nations championship played on a home and away basis over June 2016 and 2017
One Europe/Oceania play-off qualifier: The third place team from the Pacific Tri-Nations will play a home and away play-off with the second-ranked team in the Rugby Europe Championship (excluding Georgia) with the winner on aggregate qualifying for RWC 2019. The loser will qualify for the repechage tournament
Two Americas qualifiers: Canada and USA will play home and away with the winner on aggregate qualifying for RWC 2019. The loser will play home and away against the top-ranked South American team (excluding Argentina) home and away with the winner on aggregate qualifying for RWC 2019. The loser of this match qualifies for the repechage tournament
One African qualifier: The winner of the Rugby Africa Championship will qualify for RWC 2019. The runner-up qualifies for the repechage tournament
Asia/Oceania play-off for repechage place: The highest-ranked team from the Asian Rugby Championship (excluding Japan) will play home and away against the winner of the Oceania Cup with the winner on aggregate qualifying for the repechage tournament
One repechage qualifier: The repechage tournament will feature four teams playing in a round-robin format with the winners qualifying for RWC 2019.



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