The Americas qualification process offered South American teams such as Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, and Colombia the chance to add their names to the list of Rugby World Cup competitors and provide us with new heroes and storylines as well as giving Uruguay another opportunity to grace the game’s greatest stage.
Meanwhile, it was announced that only USA and Canada would take part in the Rugby Americas North (RAN) qualifiers because of the ongoing disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Americas qualification process started in São Jose dos Campos on 26 June, 2021. Brazil hosted Paraguay and won 29-0 to advance to the next stage of qualification – the Sudamerica Rugby 3 Nations (SAR 3) – along with Chile, who were awarded a walkover against a COVID-affected Colombia.
Uruguay entered the process at this stage and wins over Chile (15-10) and Brazil (39-13) saw Los Teros top the SAR 3 Nations table and qualify for a play-off against the Rugby Americas North (RAN 1) qualifier for the right to go to Rugby World Cup 2023 as Americas 1.
Chile’s 23-13 win over Brazil ensured they finished runners-up to Uruguay and, as a result, Los Condores lived to fight another day with home and away matches against the loser of the USA-Canada series (RAN 2) deciding the Americas 2 play-off qualifier.
With Uruguay and Chile’s dream still alive and the hopes of Brazil, Paraguay and Colombia dashed, the Americas qualification race switched to the far north in September as Canada hosted USA in St John’s.
The recent head-to-head record of the two teams pointed to an Eagles win but it was the home side who came out on top, 34-21. Defending a 13-point advantage proved beyond Canada, however, and the Eagles turned the tables on them on home soil in Colorado, winning 38-16 on the night and 59-50 on aggregate.
USA had home advantage in the Americas 1 play-off against Uruguay and they made it count, winning 19-16. But the Eagles were left to rue letting a 16-point lead slip as Los Teros dominated the second leg in Montevideo to win 34-15 and qualify for the Rugby World Cup as Americas 1 for the first time in their history, 50-34 on aggregate.
As Americas 1, Uruguay will line up in Pool A at Rugby World Cup 2023 with fixtures against New Zealand, hosts France, Italy, and the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 champions Namibia.
With Uruguay through, that left Canada and Chile facing each other in October 2021 to decide who’d meet USA in the Americas 2 decider. Kingsley Jones’ men edged Chile 22-21 in the first leg thanks to Robbie Povey’s last-gasp penalty but Chile triumphed 34-15 a week later and Canada’s proud ever-present record at Rugby World Cups was over.
The home-and-away encounters in July 2022 between Chile and USA for the Americas 2 ticket were fitting of the occasion and the prize at stake – a place in Pool D along with England, Argentina, Japan and Samoa at Rugby World Cup 2023.
Having lost the first leg at home 22-21, Chile looked down and out in their bid to qualify for their first Rugby World Cup when they conceded three early tries in the return match in Colorado to leave themselves 20 points behind in the tie.
However, Los Condores fought back valiantly and Santiago Videla’s late penalty, which gave them the lead for the first time, ensured they broke the hearts of home fans to claim a 31-29 victory on the night and a place at Rugby World Cup 2023.
A place in the final qualification tournament in November 2022 will offer USA one last shot at redemption. There, they will compete with the third-placed team from the Rugby Europe Championship 2022 (Portugal), the loser of the Asia/Pacific play-off (Tonga or Hong Kong) and the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 runners-up Kenya.
Full details of the Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification pathway can be found here, while ticket news and the full list of fixtures are available on the official Rugby World Cup website
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