Monday, July 5, 2010

Rugby World Cup 2011 Final Place Play-off

The home of Uruguay rugby, the Estadio Charrúa in Uruguay´s capital, Montevideo, will play host to the Rugby World Cup Final Place Place-off semi-final match of Uruguay vs Kazakhstan on Saturday July 17. The winner will qualify for the final with a chance of becoming the 20th and final team at Rugby World Cup 2011. The loser will be eliminated from Rugby World Cup qualification. It is therefore, the biggest game of international rugby in the Americas this year. It is make or break for Uruguay. This is no friendly, it is do or die.

The match is being held in Uruguay rather than Kazakhstan by virtue of the fact that Uruguay were ranked higher than Kazakhstan in the IRB World Rankings when both teams had beeen confirmed as qualifyers from their respective regions. Should Uruguay, as expected, win the match it will underline the need for the Americas to host Rugby World Cup 2023. It will be the second best from Asia losing to the fourth best from the Americas.

Also on July 17, Romania ranked 19th (Europe 3) will host Tunisia ranked 34th (Africa 2) at the Stadionul Gloriain in Buzău. The teams have played each other four times (from 1985-1993) with Romania winning three and Tunisia one. The winner of this will meet Uruguay or Kazakhstan in two matches (home and away) with the winner qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2011 as the 20th and final participant. The successful team will enter Pool B alongside Argentina, England, Georgia and Scotland.

On paper, Uruguay have a very good chance of qualifying. They should defeat Kazakhstan but then again Kazakhstan are there after defeating South Korea but losing to Hong Kong. Kazakhstan qualified for the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final Place Play-off by finishing second in the 2010 Asian Five Nations. The Nomads defeated the Arabian Gulf 43–28 and South Korea 32-25 but lost to Hong Kong 19-15 and Japan 101-07.

Uruguay qualified for the 2011 Rugby World Cup Final Place Play-off by defeating South American finalists Brazil and Chile in 2009 and then losing round-four of the Americas qualification to the runners-up from North America, the United States.

The Americas could have four teams at Rugby World Cup 2011. Then again, Africa could have three, Asia two or Europe nine. Russia qualified for New Zealand 2011, which will be their first appearance, ahead of Portugal, Romania and Spain who have all participated at previous Rugby World Cup´s. This suggests there are no certanties in Rugby World Cup qualification. A further example is Romania losing to Namibia at home in June. This was unprecedented. If Romania fail to qualify it will be the first Rugby World Cup without them.

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