The four nations bidding for the 20th and final place at Japan 2019 have played 34 matches between them to reach the global repechage tournament, Canada playing the fewest with four and Kenya the most with 13.
Here, we take a look at the twists and turns of their respective qualification campaigns.
Rugby World Cup ever-presents Canada had won 15 out of 20 RWC qualifiers against the USA prior to the Americas 1 play-off in June/July 2017 but hadn’t beaten their cross-border rivals in five years.
While there was nothing between the sides in a 28-28 draw in the first match in Hamilton, the USA Eagles underlined their recent superiority seven days later in San Diego with a crushing 52-16 victory. Defeat pitched the Canucks into an Americas 2 play-off with Uruguay with the winner earning the right to play in Pool C in Japan.
Kingsley Jones’ side ceded a nine-point advantage from the home match and, despite a battling performance in Montevideo, they were left with too much to do, Los Teros taking the return match by the narrowest of margins.
It had all looked so good for Canada with 25 minutes gone. Tries from DTH van der Merwe and Taylor Paris had eased Canada into a 15-0 lead, but Uruguay took control in the second half and Van der Merwe’s second, on the stroke of full-time, was scant consolation for a Canada side left devastated by the result.
24/06/2017 – Canada 28-28 USA – Hamilton, Canada
01/07/2017 – USA 52-16 Canada – San Diego, USA
27/01/2018 – Canada 29-38 Uruguay – Vancouver, Canada
03/02/2018 – Uruguay 32-31 Canada – Montevideo, Uruguay
Germany’s journey began with a shock win over defending Rugby Europe champions Romania and included many ups and downs, including the loss of many of their top players for the Rugby Europe Championship 2018.
Germany earned a reprieve following the point deductions for Romania, Spain and Belgium fielding ineligible players and then overcame Trophy winners Portugal to set up a home-and-away play-off with Samoa, the third-ranked team from the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup across 2016 and 2017.
They were well-beaten by the Pacific Islanders in the first match in Apia, going down 66-15, but put in a much-improved performance in the return match a fortnight later.
While Samoa’s qualification was never in doubt, an historic win for Germany appeared to be on the cards as they led for much of the match. However, Samoa scored three converted tries in the last 10 minutes, including a second of the match for Ed Fidow, to come away from Heidelberg with their pride intact.
11/02/2017 – Germany 41-38 Romania – Offenbach, Germany
04/03/2017 – Germany 34-29 Belgium – Offenbach, Germany
11/03/2017 – Germany 15-32 Spain – Cologne, Germany
19/03/2017 – Russia 52-25 Germany – Sochi, Russia
01/02/2018 – Romania 85-6 Germany – Cluj, Romania
03/03/2018 – Belgium 69-15 Germany – Brussels, Belgium
11/03/2018 – Spain 84-10 Germany – Madrid, Spain
18/03/2018 – Germany 3-57 Russia – Cologne, Germany
16/06/2018 – Germany 16-13 Portugal – Heidelberg, Germany
30/06/2018 – Samoa 66-15 Germany – Apia, Samoa
14/07/2018 – Germany 28-42 Samoa – Heidelberg, Germany
The last of the quartet to begin their bid to qualify for RWC 2019, Hong Kong overcame Korea and Malaysia in home-and-away fixtures in the Asia Rugby Championship 2018 to set up a cross-continental play-off with Oceania Rugby Cup 2017 winners the Cook Islands.
In the first-ever meeting between the teams, tries from Thomas Lamboley, Liam Slatem, Conor Hartley and Max Woodward, along with a solid defensive display which kept the Cooks to a single first-half penalty, earned them a 26-3 win in Rarotonga.
A capacity crowd turned up for the return match at the Hong Kong Stadium and they were rewarded with a 51-0 victory, Alex Post scoring a second-half brace in only his third test.
05/05/2018 – Malaysia 8-67 Hong Kong – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
12/05/2018 – Korea 21-30 Hong Kong – Incheon, Korea
26/05/2018 – Hong Kong 91-10 Malaysia – Hong Kong
02/06/2018 – Hong Kong 39-5 Korea – Hong Kong
30/06/2018 – Cook Islands 3-26 Hong Kong – Rarotonga, Cook Islands
07/07/2018 – Hong Kong 51-0 Cook Islands – Hong Kong
The first of the quartet to enter the qualification process with the Rugby Africa Gold Cup in 2016, Kenya went into the final round of the 2018 competition knowing that victory over Namibia in the title decider would see them qualify for a first Rugby World Cup as Africa 1, but defeat would still mean a place in the repechage.
Namibia had beaten them convincingly in both of their previous encounters, by a margin of 35 and 38 points, and the crucial qualifier in Windhoek proved no different, the home side winning 53-28.
Sevens star Willy Ambaka scored two tries for Kenya having made his test debut earlier in the month, against Tunisia, with second-row Malcolm Onsando and scrum-half Mohammed Omollo also dotting down.
However, Namibia’s record of appearing at every Rugby World Cup since their debut in 1999 was never really in doubt, the Welwitschias crossing for seven tries, including two tries apiece for Chrysander Botha and Louis van der Westhuizen. Cliven Loubser weighed in with 22 points.
09/07/2016 – Zimbabwe 15-61 Kenya – Harare, Zimbabwe
16/07/2016 – Namibia 56-21 Kenya – Windhoek, Namibia
30/07/2016 – Kenya 45-24 Uganda – Nairobi, Kenya
24/06/2017 – Kenya 33-33 Uganda – Nairobi, Kenya
08/07/2017 – Kenya 100-10 Tunisia – Nairobi, Kenya
15/07/2017 – Kenya 45-25 Senegal – Nairobi, Kenya
22/07/2017 – Zimbabwe 22-41 Kenya – Bulawayo, Zimbabwe
29/07/2017 – Namibia 45-7 Kenya – Windhoek, Namibia
23/06/2018 – Morocco 24-28 Kenya – Casablanca, Morocco
30/06/2018 – Kenya 45-36 Zimbabwe – Nairobi, Kenya
07/07/2018 – Kenya 38-22 Uganda – Nairobi, Kenya
11/08/2018 – Kenya 67-0 Tunisia – Nairobi, Kenya
18/08/2018 – Namibia 53-28 Kenya – Windhoek, Namibia