World Rugby Confirm Dates For 2021 World Cup Final Qualification Tournament

A file photo of World Rugby logo.


Teams from Scotland, Samoa, Colombia, and the winner of the Hong Kong vs Kazakhstan play-off will compete for the last remaining place at Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand.

The tournament is now due to take place between 8 October – 12 November 2022 while the final qualification matches will be played on 18 and 24 February 2022 at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai.

The Final Qualification Tournament will operate in a semi-final, final format over two match days. Teams will be seeded as per World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini as of 20 December 2021 with seed 1 vs seed 4 and seed 2 vs seed 3 meeting in the semi-finals.

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This is the first time the women’s edition of Rugby World Cup has featured a Final Qualification Tournament offering teams a second pathway to qualify for RWC 2021 with the winner booking their place in Pool A alongside hosts New Zealand, Australia, and Wales next year.

Eleven teams have already qualified for Rugby World Cup 2021, including New Zealand, England, France, Canada, USA, Australia, and Wales, who qualified through their final ranking at Ireland 2017, and South Africa, Fiji, Italy, and Japan who qualified through their regions.

Rugby World Cup 2021 Tournament Director, Alison Hughes, said: “We are pleased to be able to share the details of the Rugby World Cup 2021 Final Qualification Tournament. A first for a women’s edition of a Rugby World Cup the tournament offers teams a second opportunity to qualify for the pinnacle event and we anticipate a thrilling contest between competing teams in Dubai in February.”

The RWC 2021 Final Qualification Tournament will be live-streamed across World Rugby and RWC 2021 digital and social platforms. Rugby World Cup 2021 will be the showpiece event in women’s rugby union 15s, with the first tickets for Rugby World Cup 2021 selling out in minutes.

2021 Rugby World Cup Draw To Hold Nov. 20 In Auckland

A file photo of the Rugby World Cup trophy.


World Rugby, and hosts New Zealand Rugby (NZR), on Monday, said the 2021 World Cup draw will take place in Auckland on Friday, 20 November 2020.

SkyCity Theatre in the heart of Auckland’s central business district is the location for the draw which will be streamed live to rugby fans worldwide via World Rugby’s digital channels.

Hosted in the southern hemisphere for the first time in a golden year for women’s rugby, the ninth edition of the showcase tournament will take place from 18 September-16 October 2021 across three match venues.

It will be contested by 12 teams, nine are already confirmed.

Seven teams qualified directly for RWC 2021 courtesy of a top-seven finish at the last tournament in Ireland in 2017  –  defending champions New Zealand, runners-up England, bronze medalists France, USA, Canada, Australia and Wales.

Fiji and South Africa confirmed their places through the regional qualification process back in 2019, via the Rugby Africa Women’s Cup and Oceania Rugby Women’s Championship.

The remaining three places will be filled by a qualifier from Asia and Europe together with the winner of the Final Qualification Tournament, a first for a women’s Rugby World Cup, offering a second opportunity for teams to qualify.

For the first time, the World Rugby Women’s Rankings will be used to determine the draw seedings and bands for the seven direct qualifiers in bands one to three, with the five teams to emerge from the qualification process to be placed into band three and four.

The recent Rugby World Cup Board decision for the World Rugby Women’s Rankings from 1 January 2020 to be applied represents the fairest approach.

It was the last time all teams were able to play before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bands are:
Band 1 – New Zealand, England, Canada
Band 2 – France, Australia, USA
Band 3 – Wales, Europe 1, South Africa
Band 4 – Asia 1, Fiji, Final Qualifier winner

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The Rugby World Cup 2021 Draw marks an important milestone for teams and fans alike as momentum truly starts to build towards the most important international rugby tournament of 2021.

“We are in unusual and unique times with the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. However, working in full partnership with New Zealand Rugby and local and national authorities, we are committed to a spectacular Rugby World Cup 2021.

“We look forward to welcoming the world’s top women’s 15s players to New Zealand and fans around the world as we look to raise the bar for women’s rugby and women in rugby in line with our important and impactful 2017-25 Women in Rugby plan.”

Rugby World Cup 2021 Tournament Director Michelle Hooper added that the tournament was now less than a year away and plans were ramping up.

“The official draw is another step on the journey towards kick-off, and the buzz is building,” he said.

“We can’t wait to welcome all 12 teams to Aotearoa New Zealand and showcase our manaakitanga to the world. The draw will determine who will play the first matches at Eden Park and Northland Events Centre which is an exciting prospect.”

Full timings and broadcast details will be confirmed at a later stage.

Rugby: Black Ferns To Play Opening 2021 World Cup Match

File photo of Rugby World Cup trophy


World Rugby and hosts New Zealand Rugby have confirmed the Black Ferns will play their opening match of the Rugby World Cup 2021 at Auckland’s Eden Park.

Eden Park, a venue steeped in Rugby World Cup history having hosted the men’s finals in 1987 and the opening match and final in 2011, will break new ground as the host of the women’s edition of a Rugby World Cup for the first time.

Eden Park and Whangarei’s Northland Events Centre will host a combined six matches across the opening matchday on Saturday, 18 September 2021. The remaining pool stage match days – Thursday, 23 and Tuesday, 28 September – will be hosted at Waitakere Stadium and Northland Events Centre.

To mark 365 days until the tournament kicks off, rugby fans in New Zealand can register their interest in joining the team behind the tournament by becoming official volunteers of Rugby World Cup 2021.  Volunteers will play a key role in delivering the tournament and across a range of roles including hosting and way-finding, accreditation and team liaison.

World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “The countdown is on with just one year to go until the women’s edition of the Rugby World Cup kicks off in the southern hemisphere for the first time in its history. While taking into account the unique and challenging circumstances caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, planning is progressing very well and hosts New Zealand are on course to supercharge the women’s game, welcoming the world’s best teams to what we know will be an exciting and exceptional tournament. 2021 is set to be a special year for women’s rugby as it takes centre stage.”

Rugby World Cup 2021 Tournament Director Michelle Hooper said it would be extra special for both teams and fans to have the opening match at Eden Park.

“Eden Park holds a special place in rugby history, not just in New Zealand but around the world. Players from across the globe aspire to play there and fans want to witness a match there. It will set the scene for what will be an exciting event for rugby.

Hooper said while the one year to go milestone marked the beginning of the official countdown, extensive work had been going on behind the scenes to ensure the tournament would showcase the best rugby in the world.

“Despite the challenges being faced by the global pandemic, the organising team are focused, on track and determined to deliver a once-in-a-lifetime Rugby World Cup. Rugby is at the heart of New Zealand communities and the opportunity to ‘supercharge’ the women’s game will inspire a generation of young people to strive to achieve their goals.

“The world’s best high-performance rugby players want to play here, and New Zealanders are ready to host them, and showcase our manaakitanga on the world stage. As proud hosts we are encouraging everyone who is keen to be part of the action to sign-up to express their interest to become a volunteer. This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

Springbok Legend ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira Retires After World Cup triumph

South Africa’s prop Tendai Mtawarira (2nd L) catches the ball in front of South Africa’s scrum-half Faf de Klerk (L), South Africa’s wing S’Busiso Nkosi (2nd R) and South Africa’s wing Makazole Mapimpi during a training session at Arcs Urayasu Park in Urayasu on October 29, 2019, ahead of their Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final against England.
Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP


Springbok legend Tendai ‘The Beast’ Mtawarira announced Wednesday his retirement from international rugby, four days after helping South Africa win the Rugby World Cup. 

It was his third appearance at the global showpiece and after quarter-final (2011) and semi-final (2015) losses, he achieved his greatest ambition in Japan last Saturday.

He started the final against England, which South Africa won 32-12, before being replaced by Steven Kirchoff soon after half-time in a pre-arranged move.

Coach Rassie Erasmus included six forwards among his eight replacements in key World Cup matches, which allowed him to bring on virtually a new, fresh pack during the second half.

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Zimbabwe-born Mtawarira, 34, has been a fixture at loosehead prop since debuting in 2008 and he is the third most capped Springbok with 117 after retired duo Victor Mayfield and Bryan Habana.

He combined powerful strumming with loose-play surges that triggered chants of “Beast, Beast, Beast” from excited South African supporters.

While many footballers in South Africa have nicknames, the ‘Beast’ is the only top-level rugby player to have one.

“I have been privileged to play this great game and achieve many career goals over the last 12 years of playing senior rugby,” said Mtawarira in a statement issued by SA Rugby.

‘Perfect Ending’

“I have been blessed to have been part of teams that achieved so much success over the years, and I have many memories to cherish forever.

“(But) I can honestly say that winning the Rugby World Cup is the perfect ending and cherry on top.

“I am grateful for the opportunities afforded to me by many top coaches at the Springboks and the Sharks, and grateful to my numerous teammates over the years.”

SA Rugby president Mark Alexander hailed Mtawarira, who made his Springbok debut against Wales in Pretoria 11 years ago.

“‘The Beast’ is someone who never complained, always put in the hard work and simply got on with his job in his typically unassuming way,” he said.

“When he first got an opportunity at the Sharks, he rode a bicycle to training, which perfectly sums up not only his humbleness but his desire to make it to the top.

“‘Beast’, thank you for what you have done for South African rugby, to show that Springboks can indeed be gentle giants, and for never putting your own interests above those of the team.

“We salute you and will miss you in the green and gold.”


Erasmus Believes Rugby World Cup Victory Will Change South Africa

Logo courtesy – S-A Rugby


The mastermind behind the Springboks’ inspirational Rugby World Cup campaign, Coach Rassie Erasmus said it had been a privilege for the team to attempt to give South Africa a moment of hope.

Coach Erasmus, South Africa’s director of rugby, said after the team’s ultimately crushing, 32-12 victory over England in Japan that the team had been inspired by the opportunity to bring some light and joy into the daily lives of their fellow countrymen.

He said it had been the mental shift the team needed after the disappointment of defeat in the opening match against New Zealand – a performance the Springboks turned on its head by becoming the first team to win the title after losing a pool match.

“The first All Black game was a great test run for us in terms of handling pressure,” said Erasmus.

“We were terrible in that week in terms of talking about things and getting tense – it was a terrible build up that told us a lot about how to play the playoffs.

“We were quite honest with one another about that. We started to talk a lot about what is pressure.

“In South Africa, the pressure is not having a job or if one of your close relatives is murdered. In South Africa, there are a lot of problems, which is pressure. We started talking about things like that.

“Rugby shouldn’t be something that creates pressure; it should be something that creates hope. We have a privilege of giving hope – it’s not a burden.”

But Erasmus said that hope was not about words – it was about deeds.

“It’s not talking about hope, and saying you’ve got hope and sending a beautiful Tweet about hope,” he said.

“Hope is when you play well on Saturday and people watch the game and have a nice braaivleis and feel good afterward.

“No matter if you’ve got political differences or religious differences or whatever; for those 80 minutes, you agree with a lot of things you might disagree on.

“We just believed that this was not a burden, it’s our privilege and the moment you see it in that way it becomes a helluva privilege to try and fix those things.

“The moment you see it in that way it becomes a helluva privilege. We started working towards that, and that’s how we saw this whole World Cup campaign.”

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Springbok captain Siya Kolisi said it was hard to describe his emotions when he lifted the trophy: “I honestly can’t explain how I was feeling at that time,” he said.

“But to see the joy in my teammate’s faces that was the best thing for me because I know how hard they have worked and how hard the coaches have worked.

“The way we played was because we wanted to say thank you to our coach who came in and changed a lot – on the way that we saw rugby – and I’m really grateful that we could do this for him and the coaching staff and everyone in the management.”

Kolisi also said that the team had been inspired by the support from South Africa.

“I have never seen such support from our people back at home and I honestly don’t think we could have done it without them,” he said.

“The videos they sent of people coming together, it was really beautiful for us to see. I really don’t think I can say any more.”

Kolisi said the key change for the team on their journey to the title was the first meeting at the start of the 2018 season.

“From the very first meeting in Joburg, Coach Rassie was very straightforward,” said Kolisi.

“He said we were getting quite a lot of money and doing lots of things off the field, but we didn’t make rugby the main thing.

“He told us straight; it has to change, the shift has to come, rugby is more important; the Springboks are more important than our personal goals and as soon as the team does well good things will come.

“There are so many people who spend their last salary to come and see us play. They want to see us give our best on and off the field. Understanding that was the change of mindset and we started working hard; a lot of us got off social media to make sure we put our hearts and souls into it on and we challenged each other.”

The results of that challenge were a third Rugby World Cup victory.

South Africa Overpower England 32-12 To Win Rugby World Cup

South Africa Overpower England 32-12 To Win Rugby World Cup
South Africa’s flanker Siya Kolisi (C) lifts the Webb Ellis Cup as they celebrate winning the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final match between England and South Africa at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on November 2, 2019. Odd ANDERSEN / AFP


South Africa overpowered England 32-12 with a brutally effective forward display to win their third World Cup in Yokohama on Saturday.

The Springboks’ victory was built on a colossal display by their powerhouse pack that allowed fly-half Handre Pollard to kick six penalties before Makazole Mapimpi’s 66th-minute try — the first the Springboks had scored in a World Cup final — and another from fit-again fellow flyer Cheslin Kolbe put the result beyond doubt.

The victory ensured South Africa made it three wins from three World Cup final appearances and maintained their record of being crowned champions at 12-year intervals following their 1995 and 2007 triumphs.

Saturday’s win also saw South Africa become the first team to win a World Cup having lost in pool play, with the Springboks beaten by reigning champions New Zealand in their Japan 2019 opener.

It was a tactical triumph for South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus, who has overseen a Springbok revival after taking charge two years ago following a miserable 2016, and an inspirational moment for captain Siya Kolisi, the team’s first black captain.

Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP


For England, four years on from the humiliation of their first-round exit on home soil in 2015, which led them to appoint Australian coach Eddie Jones, it was a match too far after their quarter-final and semi-final wins over Australia and New Zealand.

A third defeat in four finals for England was also their second by South Africa, who defeated them 15-6 in the 2007 showpiece when Jones was a consultant to the Springboks.

And it meant there was no repeat of England’s 2003 World Cup final triumph when they beat an Australia side coached by Jones.

England suffered a cruel blow in just the third minute when prop Kyle Sinckler went off after colliding with team-mate Maro Itoje as the lock tried to tackle Mapimpi.

South Africa Beat England 32-12 To Win Rugby World Cup
South Africa’s players (green) celebrate at the end of the match. Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP


South Africa’s forward pressure was rewarded in the ninth minute when England captain Owen Farrell was penalised for holding on.

Farrell equalised but South Africa forced a scrum penalty which Pollard, the goal-kicking hero of their 16-13 semi-final win over Wales, landed.

England, who had made such an impressive start to their stunning 19-7 semi-final victory over New Zealand, were struggling to get their backs into the game but Ford’s penalty allowed them to win a line-out the edge of the Springboks’ 22.

At last England could launch wrecking-ball centre Manu Tuilagi as they drove to within a metre of the Springboks’ line, but excellent rush defence stopped them in their tracks before Farrell’s 35th-minute penalty again levelled the match at 6-6.

Pollard, however, ensured South Africa led again with a 47-metre penalty and they were 12-6 up at the break after veteran prop Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira forced Dan Cole, Sinckler’s replacement, into conceding a scrum-penalty again kicked by Pollard.

Early in the second half, Erasmus ensured there was no let-up by bringing on props Steven Kitshoff and Vincent Kock — two of six forwards from among his ‘bomb squad’ of replacements — and their very first set-piece saw England concede a fourth scrum penalty of the game.

Pollard was again on target from the tee.

England, however, managed a scrum penalty of their own in the 50th minute and Farrell succeeded from some 40 metres to cut South Africa’s lead to 15-9.

South Africa, making no secret of their tactics, formed a nine-man maul that forced England offside in the backline to give Pollard a simple penalty in front of the posts that put the Springboks two scores ahead at 18-9.

Farrell, England’s lone points-scorer, reduced the gap only for the Springboks to surge clear.

There were two hints of a forward pass in the build-up to Mapimi’s try after his kick ahead was passed back to him by centre Lukhanyo Am, but referee Jerome Garces let the score stand after consulting the television match official.

But there was no doubt about Kolbe’s effort as he sped past Farrell and prop Joe Marler.





England, South Africa Clash In Rugby World Cup Final For The Ages



England and South Africa will collide in a Rugby World Cup final between the two most powerful teams around on Saturday as they bid to become the first side to lift the Webb Ellis Cup in Asia.

A bruising encounter is in prospect in Yokohama after England outmuscled a stunned All Blacks side in the semi-finals and the Springboks ground their way past defence-minded Wales.

If Eddie Jones’s England clinch the title, they will have beaten Australia, New Zealand and South Africa on consecutive weekends — the first World Cup treble over the southern hemisphere powerhouses.

South Africa are looking to keep up their perfect record in World Cup finals, after they lifted the trophy in front of Nelson Mandela in 1995 and beat England 15-6 in 2007.

But they will also have to make history as the first team to lose a match at the tournament and still win the trophy, after their 23-13 pool reverse to the All Blacks.

Despite being the youngest finalists in the professional era, England start as favourites after they dethroned reigning champions New Zealand 19-7 in impressive fashion.

But England may want to cast their minds back to the 2003 final, when a nerve-shredding game went to extra time before Jonny Wilkinson kicked the winning drop goal in the dying seconds against Australia.

“Finals go to the wire, they generally aren’t one-sided,” Jake White, South Africa’s World Cup-winning coach in 2007, told Sky Sports.

“I just feel a lot of things are in South Africa’s favour. They have an incredible bench and if it does go to the wire they could be really strong at the back-end of the game.”

‘Rainbow Nation’

While much is at stake for both sides, national unity is the goal for South Africa who stand to have a black captain, Siya Kolisi, lift the trophy for the first time.

The story of Kolisi, born in a poor township to a teenage mother, is inspirational for South Africans and victory on Saturday would rival 1995, when Mandela was on hand to congratulate Boks captain Francois Pienaar in a potent symbol of reconciliation.

Kolisi, 28, is in no doubt about the importance of the game for the “Rainbow Nation”.

“The president (Cyril Ramaphosa) was speaking about it in parliament, asking the whole country to wear Springbok jerseys today and, if you’re in a car, to hoot at one o’clock,” Kolisi said.

“We know how much rugby means to our country and what it has done in the past.

“I’m really proud of the way we have performed as a team and it would be a huge moment for us to lift the trophy. Huge for the team, huge for the country.”

England haven’t beaten South Africa at the World Cup since 2003, after famously losing to Jannie de Beer’s five drop goals in the 1999 quarter-finals and going down twice to the Springboks in 2007.

That final 12 years ago was a tense affair, when England had a crucial try disallowed by the Television Match Official and South Africa kicked their way to the title with five penalties.

The last of the penalties was kicked by Frans Steyn, who is on the bench on Saturday and, ominously for England, has never been on the losing side in 16 World Cup games.

However, England appeared calm and confident in the build-up and they have won three of their last five Tests against Rassie Erasmus’s team.

“We’ve had four years to prepare for this game,” said Jones.

“We’ve got good tactical clarity about how we want to play, we’re fit, we’re enjoying the tournament — the only sadness is that the tournament is going to end.”

England Send Out World Cup Message With Big Win Over Australia

England’s lock Maro Itoje (R) catches the ball in a lineout during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup quarter-final match between England and Australia at the Oita Stadium in Oita on October 19, 2019.


England showed they will take some beating at the Rugby World Cup as they thumped their old enemy Australia 40-16 to become the first team to reach the semi-finals on Saturday.

Wing Jonny May scored the first two of England’s four tries in three first-half minutes as they set up a last-four clash against defending champions New Zealand or Ireland, who play later.

Kyle Sinckler and Anthony Watson crossed in the second half and 20 points flowed from Owen Farrell’s perfect kicking as Eddie Jones’s men throttled the Wallabies’ attempts to claw their way back into it.

“We did what’s needed. We had the lead and obviously Australia were throwing everything at us,” said Farrell. “We wanted to play the game at our pace not theirs, and we did that in the second half.”

With his contract up after the World Cup, the defeat appears to have ended Michael Cheika’s five-year stint as Wallabies coach whose highlight was reaching the World Cup final in 2015.

“The better team won, that’s the way it is. You’ve got to suck that up sometimes,” said a disconsolate Cheika, a former team-mate of Jones at Sydney’s Randwick club.

“I was supposed to get this done for the people here and the Australians. It’s so disappointing.”

Australia looked dangerous early on but England seized the advantage with May’s quickfire try double.

England stretched the Australian defence as they attacked right and then left, before man of the match Tom Curry drew the final defender to give the left wing an easy score in the corner.

Henry Slade then intercepted the ball on halfway and raced towards the try-line before chipping into space with a kick that was deftly gathered by the England wing.

‘Little bit Surreal’

Three Christian Lealiifano penalties kept Australia in touch at 17-9 at half-time, and they came storming back after the restart when Marika Koroibete skinned Elliot Daly to cross for the Wallabies.

But England hit back almost immediately when Farrell picked out Sinckler with a bullet pass and the prop burst through a gap for his first international try.

Watson’s late intercept try completed the job for England, who equalled their record margin of victory against Australia — and beat them for a third time in the World Cup quarter-finals.

In Saturday’s second match the All Blacks, going for their third straight title, will start as firm favourites against an Ireland team who are yet to hit their stride in Japan.

However, both teams are mindful of the fact that Ireland have won two of their last three games against the world’s top-ranked side, after 2016’s 40-29 win in Chicago and a 16-9 victory in Dublin last year.

Conor Murray and World Player of the Year Johnny Sexton, one of the world’s most settled and formidable half-back pairings, lead Irish hopes against a youthful New Zealand backline.

Beauden Barrett remains at fullback behind fly-half Richie Mo’unga in Hansen’s double playmaker ploy, while Jack Goodhue comes into the centres and Sevu Reece and George Bridge are on the wings.

“It’s a little bit surreal, it’s a little bit ‘I can’t believe it’s finally here’. This time four years ago I was a spectator like you guys and it’s not a great place to be,” said Sexton, who missed Ireland’s 2015 quarter-final — a 43-20 defeat to Argentina — with a groin strain.

“So I’m really looking forward to going out there on the biggest stage and trying to show what we can do against the best team in the world, a team that hasn’t lost for two World Cups.”

On Sunday, Wales face France in Oita and hosts Japan, the tournament’s surprise package, play the first World Cup quarter-final in their history against South Africa in Tokyo.

Japan Will Be ‘Tough To Beat’ At World Cup, Says Scotland’s Townsend

Scotland’s head coach Gregor Townsend awaits the start of the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool A match between Japan and Scotland at the International Stadium Yokohama in Yokohama on October 13, 2019.
William WEST / AFP


Japan are a quality side that will be very tough to beat at the Rugby World Cup, Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said Sunday after his side crashed out with a 28-21 defeat by the Brave Blossoms.

The result saw Japan defy 50/1 odds to go unbeaten in Pool A and set up a mouth-watering quarter-final against South Africa in Tokyo next weekend.

Scotland, however, face an early flight home after missing out to Six Nations rivals Ireland for the pool’s runners-up spot.

“We’re disappointed, we obviously look at the game from how we play and we weren’t able to win by more than eight points,” said Townsend.

“We started well in attack and defence but didn’t see ball for the rest of half.”

Finn Russell opened the scoring with a try, but the hosts, roared on by a capacity crowd at International Stadium Yokohama, hit back with three first-half tries before withstanding a Scottish fightback in the second period.

“At 58 minutes we were seven points behind, but we didn’t do enough to get the win,” lamented Townsend.

“We came here with high aspirations and getting out of the pool was stage one of that.

“We’ve worked hard to go further than tonight.”

Townsend insisted that the on-off build-up to the match, in light of the deadly Typhoon Hagibis that swept through eastern Japan overnight, had not been behind Scotland’s failure to reach the quarter-finals for only the second time in their history.

“It was going to be a challenge with the team we were playing, our (four-day) turnaround,” the Scotland coach said.

“The players are professional. We always believed that the game would go ahead.”

‘Take It On The Chin’

Townsend added: “It’s always a good indication of where the players are with energy when they start and they started well, and then we made a couple of errors, and we gave Japan the ball and they made the most of that.

“I’m proud of the effort, but we need to be more accurate in the final 20 minutes. We had an opportunity to win tonight and we didn’t take it.”

Townsend praise the Japan team as a “very cohesive group”.

“You can tell they’ve been together for a long time and they know the game they play, they play to their strengths… a fast game.

“They have some really good players, ball-carriers in the forwards and some players (in the backs) with real pace and confidence right now.”

Japan play South Africa next weekend and Townsend predicted a tough battle for the two-time champion Springboks.

“They’ll be a tough team to beat, that’ll be a tough game for South Africa,” he said.

Scotland skipper Greg Laidlaw insisted that Japan had “never caught us off-guard as such”.

“We started the game fairly well, switched off and let Japan into the game.

“We’re disappointed as a group because we had aspirations. They scored 28 points against us tonight and we’ve got to take that on the chin.”

‘It Wasn’t Pretty’ – Italy Off-Key In Rugby World Cup Win Over Namibia

Italy’s head coach Conor O’Shea gestures as he meets the press after a training session in Sakai on September 20, 2019, ahead of the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup.


Italy coach Conor O’Shea said his team were “disappointed” with their Rugby World Cup start after they were forced to come from behind in an error-strewn 47-22 win over lowly Namibia on Sunday.

Talisman captain Sergio Parisse became only the third man to play in five Rugby World Cups but even he admitted it was “not maybe a really nice match to see” as wind and at times torrential rain lashed the Hanazono Stadium.

Often Six Nations whipping boys, Italy are targeting their October 4 clash against South Africa as a possible route to reaching the knock-out stages for the first time but this patchy display will not leave the Springboks unduly worried.

“We’ll have to move on from that pretty quickly. It wasn’t very pretty. There’s too many errors in it,” said O’Shea.

“It was difficult conditions at times in the second half, which doesn’t excuse it. But we’ll be disappointed with the way we played… that’s not the true version of us,” said the Irishman after the bonus-point win.

Namibia’s defence coach had promised to treat fans to an impromptu haka if his minnows pulled off a shock and it was the unfancied Welwitschias who started the brightest.

Italy’s prop Marco Riccioni (C) is tackled during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between Italy and Namibia at the Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Higashiosaka on September 22, 2019.


The underdogs led with only five minutes on the clock, seizing on an overthrown line-out to produce a flowing move down the right flank finished off acrobatically by scrum-half Damian Stevens.

Italy hit back within minutes, a Parisse-inspired push-over in the scrum resulting in a penalty try as Namibia collapsed on their line.

The Italians squandered several chances in a nervy and mistake-ridden first half but eventually took the lead in the 26th minute as they unpicked the Namibian defence for fly-half Tommaso Allan to touch down under the posts.

The champagne moment of the match came on the stroke of half-time as Federico Ruzza’s no-look pass let in Tito Tebaldi for a try, well converted to give the favourites a 21-7 lead at the break.

‘Never Gave Up’

With the match being played on the fringes of a typhoon, rain hammered down in the early part of the second half and Italy extended their advantage almost immediately through an Edoardo Padovani try after a clever kick behind Namibian lines.

Italy never looked in danger of losing the match, scoring three further tries via Carlo Canna, Jake Polledri and Matteo Minozzi, but the spirited Namibians refused to lie down and a touch-down from winger JC Greyling was greeted with roars from the capacity crowd.

A mazy Chad Plato try under the posts gave the Namibians a final consolation score just before time.

The 36-year-old Parisse’s record-equalling fifth World Cup put him alongside fellow countryman Mauro Bergamasco and Samoan legend Brian Lima, and his 141st cap also drew him level with Irish star Brian O’Driscoll in second place on the all-time list.

“The important thing today was to win and take the five points,” Parisse said.

“Big congratulations to Namibia as well because they never gave up. They kept playing to the end.”

France To Host Rugby World Cup 2019 Repechage Tournament


World Rugby has announced that the Stade Delort in Marseille, France will host the Rugby World Cup 2019 Repechage tournament.

Four teams will compete in the round-robin format event to be played across three match days on November 11, 17, and 23, 2018.

The Repechage tournament is a new concept for Rugby World Cup qualification and represents the last opportunity for a team to qualify for Japan 2019, with four nations fighting it out to secure the 20th and final place at the Rugby World Cup.

Last weekend, Hong Kong confirmed their place in the Repechage with a convincing 77-3 aggregate victory over the Cook Islands. They join Canada who were confirmed in the Repechage in February, following their defeat to Uruguay in America’s play-off over two legs.

The third team will be decided when Germany face Samoa in Heidelberg on Saturday, July 14 (kick-off: 16:00 local time). The winner will qualify automatically for the Rugby World Cup while the loser will join the Repechage. Samoa head into the game in a strong position for automatic qualification, following their 66-15 victory in the first-leg of the play-off in Apia.

The line-up will be completed on August 18 when the Rugby Africa Gold Cup comes to a conclusion with the champions qualifying directly for Japan 2019, and the runners-up entering the Repechage.

The winner of the Repechage will enter into group B at the Rugby World Cup alongside reigning champions New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Africa 1.

The Stade Delort in Marseille is a 5,000-capacity venue which has previously hosted rugby and major sports events in France’s second largest city in the Provence region.

The announcement follows hot on the heels of the French Rugby Federation’s successful hosting of the record-breaking Under 20 Championships across three venues in southern France last month and comes ahead of France’s hosting of Rugby World Cup 2023.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “The Repechage tournament is going to be a very hotly contested event with the ultimate prize of a place at the Rugby World Cup at stake. Marseille can look forward to three matchdays of thrilling rugby between nations from four different continents.

“Following the outstanding success of the recent World Rugby U20 Championship in southern France, we are delighted to partner with the French Rugby Federation again to deliver this important tournament as France continues to advance its preparations for hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2023.”

French Rugby Federation President Bernard Laporte said: “I am delighted that France will be hosting the Repechage tournament for the Rugby World Cup 2019. It’s a very important event as four teams will compete in Marseille to get the last seat for the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

“By hosting this tournament, FFR reinforces its commitment to help develop rugby worldwide. It’s also a pretty glimpse to the Rugby World Cup France2023. I wish to thank the SMUC Rugby which partners with FFR to ensure the success of such an event.”

Demand for tickets to the Rugby World Cup in Japan has been phenomenal with over 2.5 million ticket applications in the initial sales phases.

The next opportunity to secure tickets begins on September 19 with the opening of the General Ticket Sales Ballot open to the general public.

Disappointed S.Africans React To France’s Choice As Rugby World Cup Host

South Africans reacted with disappointment on Wednesday after the right to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup was surprisingly awarded to France.

The Council of the sport’s governing body went against the recommendations of an extensive evaluation report in a secret ballot.

South Africa had been recommended by World Rugby’s Board but in a second ballot, the Council members voted convincingly 24-15 for France, which also held the tournament in 2007.

It was the first time the Board’s recommendation has been ignored and the decision was immediately followed by questions over the selection process and the point of running an extensive and transparent evaluation process only for the decision to be taken in secret.

The shock announcement by World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont in London was greeted by a moment of stunned silence before the French delegation delivered a muffled cheer.

Ireland, which has never hosted the World Cup on its own, was eliminated after the first round when it secured eight votes to the 13 of South Africa and 18 of France.

The bidding countries did not take part in the ballot. The remaining Six Nations and SANZAR countries had three votes each with the rest made up from the six regional associations and smaller rugby countries.

Read Also: France To Host 2023 Rugby World Cup

South Africa, which staged the 1995 tournament, winning it in their first appearance after missing the first two because of the apartheid sporting ban, had been an odds-on favourite after coming out clearly on top of the evaluation report.

Mark Alexander, president of SA Rugby, said he was “desolated”.