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Editorial: Escaping the ‘Pool Of Death’ in 2019

Following the most compelling and competitive Rugby World Cup to date, World Rugby must be commended for doing a thorough review. The more positive qualification process for the 2019 RWC
15 Nov 2015 14:53
Editorial: Escaping the ‘Pool Of Death’ in 2019

Following the most compelling and competitive Rugby World Cup to date, World Rugby must be commended for doing a thorough review.

The more positive qualification process for the 2019 RWC in Japan, delivered last Thursday, will definitely benefits Fiji and other Tier Two nations.

The Vodafone Flying Fijians were slotted in the ‘Pool of Death’ in the United Kingdom last month against top guns Australia, England and Wales for winning one game, against Namibia, at the 2011 RWC in New Zealand. Under the same format, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa would again be slotted in another tough pool in Tokyo for winning one game at the 2015 RWC.

But this will not be the case anymore.

It’s more likely the three island nations will qualify as the qualification process is designed to deliver the top 20 teams in the world to rugby’s showcase tournament, while promoting a pathway for all full member unions to qualify.

With 12 teams having secured their place at Japan 2019 courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers. This will begin in 2016 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 three Pacific Island nations will take part in a new Pacific Tri-Nations competition across June 2016 and 2017 delivering two qualifiers.

The third team can still qualify 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.

Since taking up the Vodafone Flying Fijians coach, John McKee doesn’t like Fiji being tagged as a Tier Two nation but prefers as a Test rugby country.

The Vodafone Flying Fijians achieved and proved their worth during the 2015 RWC pool games against England, Wales and Australia.

“We will need to keep working hard as this qualifying process puts us in a good chance to be in a better grouping in 2019,”he said.

“We need to keep our dominance in the region not only to put us in a better placing but play Australia in 2017.”

World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “We’re committed to further increase competiveness at international level and the RWC 2019 regional qualification process is designed to give all full member unions an opportunity to qualify, while delivering the best teams on merit.

“With interest in rugby currently at an all-time high in Japan, the qualification process, coupled with confirmation of the tournament dates, means that teams and fans alike can now begin the process of planning and preparation.”

Mr McKee has confirmed allegiance to Fiji despite being linked to the new Super Rugby franchise, the Sunwolves of Japan. He needs the support of all rugby stakeholders to take the Vodafone Fijians Flying forward in 2019.

OSEA BOLA

Feedback: oseab@fijisun.com.fj




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