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Let’s look at 2019 Rugby World Cup and what’s at stake

Let’s take our attention away from the 2016/17 World Sevens Series and focus on something that is more important. That is the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifier and the need
22 Mar 2017 11:00
Let’s look at 2019 Rugby World Cup and what’s at stake
Vodafone Flying Fijians head coach, John McKee

Let’s take our attention away from the 2016/17 World Sevens Series and focus on something that is more important.

That is the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifier and the need for us to qualify, if we are to be taken seriously in the rugby world.

Looking back to the 2015 RWC, our Vodafone Flying Fijians, Samoa and Tonga – failed to finish in the top three of their respective pools, a position that would have assured them direct entry into the 2019 tournament.

Since we played in the repechage in order to qualify, we were placed in the pool of death where we faced England, Australia, Wales and Uruguay.

However, we should be grateful to World Rugby for changing the qualifying process, which eased fears that Fiji, Samoa or Tonga would miss out on the 2019 RWC.

World Rugby, announced that two teams will qualify from a Pacific Tri-Nations championship played on a home and away basis over June 2016 and July 2017.

In addition, the team that finished third in that tournament will still have a chance to reach Japan 2019 by contesting a home and away play-off with the second-ranked team in the Rugby Europe Championship (excluding Georgia) which will see the aggregate winner go through to the finals. The loser will qualify for a new repechage tournament.

The John McKee coached- Vodafone Flying Fijians started well to top the points table at the end of the first round of the Pacific Nations Cup, which also served as the 2019 RWC qualifier.

Holding a slender lead over Samoa means that we cannot rest on our laurels. In actual fact, this is going to be a much tougher task compared to last year’s PNC where we hosted Samoa and Tonga at the ANZ Stadium, Suva.

This time around we will travel to;

  •  Nuku’alofa on July 8 to face Tonga
  •  Apia on July 15 to take on Samoa.

History tells us that playing against our arch Pacific rivals at their respective home grounds and backed by their vocal home crowds is no easy feat at all. It’s like being 10 points behind even before the match starts.

For this we need players who have tons of guts, fearless, ability to take the hard hits, focused and be able to keep their discipline at the same time.      

McKee needs to gather all our top overseas based and local players together for these most important assignments.

The Fiji Rugby Union must also make it a point that apart from injuries, players who don’t avail themselves for this most important qualifying process should not be considered for selection come the 2019 RWC. This is a must do-or-die situation for us and there’s no turning back as we need to book our ticket for Japan come 2019.   

LEONE CABENATABUA

Feedback:  leonec@fijisun.com.fj

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