Much like most other global sporting tournaments, the IRB allows for direct qualifiers from continents to enter their World Cups.
|Uruguay are the main losers from|
the IRB's decision not to give
South America an automatic
place in the World Cup.
However there has been controversy over this system as whilst Africa get an qualifying place alongside the already qualified South Africa, South America on the other hand doesn't get an automatic qualifying spot alongside the already qualified Argentina, as the IRB merge the North American and South American continents for qualifying.
The winner of this system is Namibia who have qualified for the last four World Cups playing sides such as Uganda, Tunisia and Ivory Coast. The loser though is Uruguay and Chile as they both have to get through a substantially harder route. For the qualifying for the 2011 tournament for example, Uruguay had to beat either the USA or Romania to qualify, two very tough qualifying matches.
There have been question marks over whether Namibia should get an easy street into the World Cup, and also criticism of the inconsistency that allows one continent an automatic place but not for another. This issue has split opinion often.
|Hong Kong could make their RWC debut in 2019.|
The IRB maintained the same qualifying system for the 2015 World Cup, and for the 2019 World Cup the chances of South America have decreased after the latest news.
The word going around is that because Japan are hosting the 2019 World Cup, they will get automatic qualification. Meaning the door is opened for another Asian side to take the place of Asia 1, which will probably be either Hong Kong (who are planned to possibly host a few games) or South Korea.
That means whilst another weaker side well outside the world's top 20 will qualify automatically, it also means that either one stronger side from the top 12 will be pushed into the qualifying system, or there will be 7 qualifying places available rather than 8 (assuming Japan don't finish in the top 3 of their pool). Either way, the chance for a South American qualifying spot to open up or a South American side qualify through the system decreases.
This is similar to when South Africa hosted in 1995, and Africa got an extra spot in the old 16 team format at the expense of the USA.
Whilst South American rugby loses out for 2019. If Argentina were to host in 2023, it would be unclear as to whether South America would get a guaranteed extra place as the IRB merge the two Americas continents together. Also the 2023 tournament is expected to be the tournament where a possible expansion to 24 teams may be considered depending on how the strength of rugby nations looks at the time. With an expanded tournament, there would almost certainly be a space for Uruguay who have been the unlucky last team eliminated these last two tournaments.
However as yet, these are just rumours coming from the rugby world. Nothing is confirmed.