RWC 2015 set to welcome European qualifiers

(IRB.COM) Tuesday 18 February 2014
 
RWC 2015 set to welcome European qualifiers
The ENC Division 1A title will most likely come down to the final game between Georgia and Romania, who played out a 9-9 draw the last time they met

Georgia and Romania can book their places at Rugby World Cup 2015 if they continue their winning ways this weekend in the FIRA-AER European Nations Cup Division 1A.

The two perennial favourites of this competition are currently sitting pretty at the top of the table on 28 points each, 10 clear of third-placed Russia. A win for Romania against Spain and Georgia over Russia this Saturday will be enough to give them both unassailable leads in the race for a top-two finish and automatic qualification.

But that is not the end of the story because where those two finish in the standings will determine which pool they will join in England. As Europe 1, the winner will join Pool C with New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and the African qualifier while the runner-up will qualify as Europe 2 and so face France, Ireland, Italy and Canada in Pool D.

So it’s likely that the entire competition will come down to a thrilling finale when Georgia host Romania in Tblisi on March 15. The two played out a 9-9 draw when they met in Bucharest last year so there is little or nothing to choose between them.

IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset will be in Tblisi this weekend to watch the Lelos take on Russia, who themselves qualified for RWC 2011 and who pose the biggest threat to the top two.

“The European qualification process has been highly competitive throughout and as we near its finale, I am anticipating another high-quality and hard-fought match between these two ambitious teams,” said Lapasset.

“Rugby World Cup is about so much more than the 48 matches played during tournament time once every four years. The tournament is the financial engine behind the development of the Game and thanks to its commercial success we have been able to invest record sums in supporting Unions such as Georgia, Romania and Russia in order that they are even more competitive at our showcase event.”

“A more balanced daily match schedule and a greater number of annual Test matches means that whoever qualifies for Rugby World Cup 2015 will have the best-possible platform to perform to their best ability and we will see closer matches and hopefully more upsets, which is great for Rugby fans around the world.”

“As we near the end of a qualification process that has involved 82 nations and 203 matches and given every member union the opportunity to make it to England 2015, we will look back at some great Rugby, incredible feats of character on and off the field.”

As Georgia and Romania look to close out their qualification, there is still plenty for the other teams to play for with the team finishing in third place making it through to the global play-off. Leading the charge there is Russia with Spain a further eight points back in fourth place.

The famous Webb Ellis Cup will be in Tbilisi on March 15 for the final round of matches to determine who will be crowned Europe 1 and Europe 2 and who will enter the play-off process against the loser of USA and Uruguay. The Georgia v Romania match will be streamed live here