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Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Quick Look At 2019 RWC Qualifying

Focus is still squarely focused on this World Cup as the Southern Hemisphere takes on the Northern Hemisphere in this weekend's quarterfinals. However, for teams that didn't make the finals attention is already turning to the 2019 World Cup. The tournament is still four years away but thanks tot he top three teams in each pool at this year's tournament qualifying for 2019 we already the 12 teams that will be in Japan. They are: Australia, Wales, England, South Africa, Scotland, Japan (who would have been in as hosts anyways), New Zealand, Argentina, Georgia, Ireland, France, and Italy.

So where the rest of the major teams stand and how might qualifying look over the next four years? If qualifying holds firm to what we saw the last several cycles there could be some major teams missing out with a couple of debuts. Here's a look at each region beginning with the Americas.

Take the jump to read more.Americas: Argentina, the big dogs in the region, have already qualified so that means it will likely be between the U.S., Canada, and Uruguay once again for two spots (we should mention that World Cup hasn't finalized qualifying). As of right now the U.S. are probably the favorite team to take the Americas 1 spot and Canada to take the Americas 2 spot putting Uruguay in the repechage again. However, as we'll talk about later, it may be very difficult for Uruguay to qualify for 2019.

Africa: Namibia were the winners last time, and the time before that, and the time before that, etc. Things have been closer recently, including a loss to Madagascar, but all signs point to Namibia qualifying again. Maybe Kenya or Zimbabwe surprise. 

Europe: This year Europe has been thrown for a loop with Georgia qualifying. Qualifying in Europe is done through the European Nations Cup. That had always fit nicely because the Six Nations teams all qualifying automatically while none of the ENC teams did. However, with Georgia automatically qualifying there will be plenty of calls for changes. Still, Europe should have two spots again which means Romania and another team. Portugal, Russia, and Spain are all options to return to the World Cup.

Asia: With Japan qualifying and hosting there is going to be a new team from Asia. Hong Kong and South Korea have been the top two teams over the last few cycles and one of them is going to qualify for 2019. It's exciting that one team is going to make their debut at the tournament.

Oceania: This is where things might get messy. If World Rugby holds to the same pattern as the last few cycles with Oceania only getting one place in the tournament and one place in the repechage one of Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji are going to miss out. Fiji and Samoa are the top two at the moment but regardless this is going to be fun to watch. Whoever makes the repechage from this group should be able to top any challenger from Europe, Africa, Asia, or the Americas. 

1 comment:

  1. In fact, Oceania has not had access to the repechage during the last two qualification cycles.

    One thing that I have noticed in qualifying tournaments over the years (looking only at those for 20-team world cups) is that the number of spots allocated to each region is entirely dependent on how many teams pre-qualified (four for 1999, eight for 2003 and 2007, and 12 for 2011 and 2015), and on which teams pre-qualified. What has been more consistent is the total number of spots (whether through pre-qualification or the qualifying tournament).

    Oceania had one qualifying spot the last two times. There is literally no way World Rugby holds to that, with two out of Samoa/Tonga/Fiji being excluded.

    For the last two tournaments, the regional allocation has been: Asia - 1.25, Africa - 2.25, Americas - 3.25, Europe 8.25, and Oceania - 5. In the three prior tournaments, Asia, Americas, and Europe sometimes had a bit more, and Oceania had a bit less (4.5 or 4.25), but the variation was minor.

    I think it is likely that Europe and Asia get a bit more this time, and Oceania should get less. Most likely, they will be able to qualify two teams directly, with the third going through repechage. Probably the most reasonable thing to do would be for Europe to qualify one team directly, with their next team playing Asia, and for the #3 Oceania team to have a bye before facing either the winner of a playoff between the #3 Americas team and the #2 African team.

    I think one thing that needs to be kept in mind is that World Rugby really doesn't have a clue. I'm sure they will be very confused by Georgia's qualification, and had Romania beaten Italy, it would have overwhelmed them. This is the organization that published a number of breathless articles about Cyprus's rise and how they would likely have a very good chance of qualifying. Somehow it escaped the IRB's notice until much later that Cyprus wasn't even a member of their organization and thus was ineligible to qualify. They also allowed for a qualification system in Africa in which a previous finals participant (Cote d'Ivoire) was eliminated despite winning all of their games.