The journey to Japan - by Pete Redman

The journey to Japan - by Pete Redman

What’s going on?
You remember that RWC 2019 blog I started, right? No, you probably don’t – the reason being that not much has happened since the draw almost a month ago. Nothing is happening at any great pace! You can see my last thoughts here: http://rugbyunited.org.uk/content/journey-japan-peter-redman-talks-rwc19-draw
That’s the problem of having a draw so far ahead – excitement builds, then dies, then builds again when teams qualify, then dies, then builds to a crescendo when you finally board a damn flight to Japan!

We have some stuff going on though, if you’re a true rugby anorak!
Uruguay have won the South American Championship for 2017. This now gives them about 27 chances of qualifying. Firstly, they’ll face the loser of USA v Canada over 2 legs to see if they can become “America 2”. Should they lose that, they’ll enter the repechage tournament for one more spot. OK, so it’s only 2 chances of qualifying, not 27, but still… 
In the coming weeks, a couple of other qualifiers should take shape, too.
The afore-mentioned USA v Canada matchup takes place over two legs on 24th June and 1st July. 
The African qualifying starts again at the same time, favourites Namibia kicking-off their campaign in Tunisia on 1st July. Don’t get too excited though, this doesn’t actually conclude until the 2018 Gold Cup!

The biggest matches though see the Pacific Islanders battling over 3 weekends of 1st, 8th and 15th July. This group was a H/A pool with Fiji currently topping that table after two home matches with trips to Tonga and Samoa upcoming. Tonga meanwhile lie bottom, but have played two away matches and have to look to win at least one home match to stand any chance of avoiding another play-off.

So if the Lions or the NH tours don’t get you excited, there is something for everyone there!