Four teams are now set for the World Cup Repechage to decide the final qualifier for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Kenya will join Hong Kong, Canada, and Germany in the last-gasp tournament.
Stade Pierre Delort in the French city of Marseille will act as a neutral venue for the tournament, which will follow a round-robin format. The four teams will play three test matches beginning November 11 with the highest ranked team earning their spot as the 20th seed in RWC 2019.
There will be historical firsts in the competition as Canada have never played test matches against Germany or Kenya before, while the other teams share only single matches between each other in previous years. Canada was once a regular opponent of Hong Kong in the now-defunct Pacific Rim Championship but they have not played since 1998, the year of Hong Kong’s only win against Canada – a 23-17 victory in Hong Kong.
While the Canadians may enter as favorites being the only team of the four to have previously participated in a World Cup, it is Hong Kong who are the highest-ranked side on the World Rugby Rankings. They come in at No 21, just ahead of Canada at No 20. Kenya are currently 28th on the list while Germany are right behind in 29th spot.
This will be Kenya’s first Repechage competition, having qualified as Africa 2. In fact only Hong Kong have appeared in the Repechage before, losing to Uruguay in the 2015 Qualifiers. On that occasion the format was two-round knock-out with Uruguay defeating Russia in a two-leg home-and-away final.
Hong Kong won their spot in the Repechage by first topping the Rugby Asia Championship and then defeating the Cook Islands in the Asia/Oceania Play-Off.
Canada fell to the USA in the Americas 1 Qualifier last year and then to Uruguay in the Americas 2 Qualifier earlier this year.
Germany did not originally qualify for the Repechage but after Romania and Spain were effectively tossed out following the Rugby Europe scandals, Germany were awarded the chance to advance in a Play-Off against Portugal, which they narrowly won in June. They were then defeated by Samoa in the Europe/Oceania Play-Off with direct qualification on offer.
The winner of the Repechage will join Pool B at the World Cup, where they will join Namibia, Italy, South Africa, and two-time defending world champions New Zealand.
CURRENT WORLD RUGBY RANKINGS -as of Monday Sep 10.
21 – 60.46 – Hong Kong
23 – 59.93 – Canada
28 – 55.71 – Kenya
29 – 55.59 – Germany
ROUND 1 – Sunday, November 11
ROUND 2 – Saturday, November 17
ROUND 3 – Friday, November 23
1996-06-01 – Canada 18-12 Hong Kong – Hong Kong
1996-07-06 – Canada 57-9 Hong Kong – Vancouver
1997-05-24 – Canada 35-27 Hong Kong – Hong Kong
1997-06-07 – Canada 17-16 Hong Kong – Vancouver
1998-05-09 – Canada 17-23 Hong Kong – Hong Kong
1998-06-13 – Canada 38-12 Hong Kong – Shawnigan Lake
2009-12-12 – Hong Kong 14-24 Germany – Heidelberg
2017-05-27 – Kenya 29-30 Germany – Nairobi
2017-11-18 – Hong Kong40-30 Kenya – Hong Kong
2017- Hong Kong 43-34 Kenya -Nairobi
2017- Kenya 19-19 Hong Kong -Nairobi
2016- Kenya 34-10 Hong Kong -Nairobi