New Zealand and Wales on the other hand fell short in their attempts to win the Webb Ellis Cup and will face-off in the third-place play-off. After two very different games we choose the 15 players that impressed the most over the weekend.
15) Leigh Halfpenny – When the team announcements were made and it was confirmed that Wales’ regular full-back Liam Williams would not play any part in the tournament people feared the worst. Although Halfpenny came in as a more than able replacement, catching every high-ball that came his way, looking dangerous with ball in hand and adding the conversion to Josh Adams try after Dan Biggar left the field. Unfortunate to be on the losing side in what was a complete individual performance.
14) Anthony Watson – This was a performance that was just missing a try. Electric from start to finish, causing the All Blacks problems every time he touched the ball. His form throughout the competition has been impressive and he will be hoping to continue it in the showpiece against the Springboks on Saturday.
13) Manu Tuilagi – He seems to show up every time they play the All Blacks, but this was an incredibly explosive performance which began with a brilliant pick and go try within the opening two minutes. His attacking talents were on display for all to see but it was in defence that he showed up even more, pressuring the opposition and putting in some big hits. The Boks will have some job trying to stop him if he continues at his current form.
12) Damian de Allende – The Springboks performance was not the most incredible to watch but it was effective and this man’s try was vital in the end. He made metres with every carry and put in a solid defensive display. The power and willingness he showed to score his try was incredible. His clash with Tuilagi will be one to watch this weekend.
11) Josh Adams – Like Halfpenny he was on the losing side but he looked sharp with the ball in hand and got the Welsh back into the game with a try, his sixth of the tournament. He grows with every match he plays and although disappointed not to make the final, he will look back at this tournament with great pride on an individual level.
10) Handre Pollard – Ice cold under pressure! The Springboks fly-half was rightly named man of the match in the team’s semi-final as he maintained a 100% kicking record throughout the contest and had a hand in the lead up to de Allende’s try. His kicking battle with Farrell and Ford in the final could be the difference between the two sides.
9) Faf de Klerk – Another brilliant performance to add to his ever growing collection. He runs the game for the Boks, he knows who should be where, when to pass, when to kick, and he can do it all. Although being among the smallest players in the tournament he competed and claimed some kicks in the air and even went up against Welsh lock Jake Ball as tensions boiled over. Fearless in every situation and working his way to being named the best scrum-half on the planet.
1) Mako Vunipola – He may have only come back to full fitness mid-way through the tournament but he has shown no signs of being rusty and was at his best against the men in black. Never shies away against the opposition pack and his physicality in defence is something that could counteract the Boks pure brutality in attack.
2) Ken Owens – Put in a massive shift, staying on the pitch for 72 minutes, which alone is impressive for a hooker, let alone for a hooker against powerful opposition like the Boks. His set-piece was perfect and was one of the leaders on the pitch as Wales attempted to snatch a famous win.
3) Frans Malherbe – He was only on the park for 47 minutes but he seemed to be everywhere. Making tackles all over the place and won a couple of fantastic penalties for his side as took advantage of some isolated Welsh attackers.
4) Maro Itoje – Gets better and better under pressure. Facing the All Blacks is a daunting prospect, but he was coming up against a former World Player of the Year in Brodie Retallick and in the personal battle he certainly won. He made some sensational tackles, broke through the All Blacks line-out maul to win a penalty at one point and carried with real intensity. He is still young and will continue to grow and after facing one of the best second-row pairings this weekend he can look forward to facing another in the final.
5) Courtney Lawes – His 55 minute cameo was as impressive as any that he has had in the white of England. He and Itoje won the battle in the engine-room and slowed the All Blacks in open play. It remains to be seen whether he will start the final, but he did his chances the world of good with this display.
6) Tom Curry – The standout player of the weekend! At 21 he has time on his side, some would forgive him if he shied away in the big games but he has done the complete opposite. Against Australia last weekend he took on some of the best back-rowers in the game and came out on top and did so once again against the reigning back to back World Cup holders. If he continues to grow at the rate he will become one of the best back-rowers in history.
7) Pieter-Steph Du Toit – He was a bright spark in what was a dull enough game, were the Boks failed to show their full capabilities. Du Toit just has an unbelievable amount of strength, barrelling through defenders like as if they were rag-dolls at times and smashing attackers that came anywhere near his team’s try-line.
8) Ross Moriarty – Taking up the reins from Josh Navidi and was brilliant. Scored the winning try in last week’s quarter-final and playing a huge part in Adams try as he controlled the ball well at the back of the scrum. He will have another chance to shine against the All Blacks on Friday.
Women’s Rugby World Cup looks set to be postponed.
World Rugby has made the difficult decision to recommend the postponement of Rugby World Cup 2021, scheduled to be hosted in New Zealand between 18 September-16 October, until next year. The recommendation will be considered by the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee on 8 and 9 March respectively.Play Video
While appreciating the recommendation is extremely disappointing for teams and fans, it has their interests at heart, and gives the tournament the best opportunity to be all it can be for them, all New Zealanders and the global rugby family.
The recommendation is based on the evolution of the uncertain and challenging global COVID-19 landscape. It has become clear in recent discussions with key partners including New Zealand Rugby, the New Zealand Government and participating unions, that, given the scale of the event and the COVID-19-related uncertainties, it is just not possible to deliver the environment for all teams to be the best that they can be on the sport’s greatest stage.
The challenges include uncertainty and the ability for teams to prepare adequately for a Rugby World Cup tournament both before and on arrival in New Zealand, and challenging global travel restrictions.
World Rugby can assure teams, New Zealanders and the global rugby family that the recommendation to postpone the tournament will help to ensure that Rugby World Cup 2021 will be all it can be next year for players, fans and the rugby family – one of the great Rugby World Cups.
Further updates will be issued following the Rugby World Cup Board and World Rugby Executive Committee meetings next week.
RWC 2023 Pools confirmed.
How the draw worked
As host nation, France was drawn first and placed randomly in one of the four pools. The teams were then drawn randomly from each band, starting with Band 5 (Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia / Pacific 1, Final Qualifier Winner), then Band 4 (Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2), then Band 3 (Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy), then Band 2 (Ireland, (France), Australia, Japan) and finally Band 1 (South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales). The first drawn in each band was placed in Pool A, the second in Pool B, the third in Pool C and the fourth in Pool D.
Twelve of the 20 teams qualified automatically by finishing in the top three places of their Rugby World Cup 2019 pool. These 12 teams are: South Africa, New Zealand, England, Wales, Ireland, France, Australia, Japan, Scotland, Argentina, Fiji and Italy. Acknowledging the global COVID-19 impact on international rugby in 2020, these teams were seeded based on the World Rugby Men’s Rankings as of 1 January, 2020 and placed into the first three bands of four teams.
The remaining eight teams will come through the regional qualification process and were allocated for the draw into bands four and five based on relative strength. They are: Americas 1, Americas 2, Europe 1, Europe 2, Africa 1, Oceania 1, Asia / Pacific 1 and the Final Qualifier Winner.
Qualification process set for Rugby World Cup 2023
- Process designed to promote regional strength and the best teams to rugby’s showcase event
- 12 teams already qualified owing to top three pool placing at RWC 2019
- RWC 2023 on track to be a spectacular celebration of rugby and France
World Rugby has announced details of the qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023 in France.
Following the most competitive and widely-acclaimed Rugby World Cup to date in Japan, the qualification process is designed to deliver the top teams in the world to rugby’s showcase tournament, while promoting a genuine opportunity for all unions.
With 12 teams having secured their place at France 2023 courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools at RWC 2019, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers. The process will conclude with a four-team round-robin Final Qualification Tournament in November 2022 to determine the final qualifier.
The dates for events in 2021 will be announced in due course and will be subject to an anticipated easing of the COVID-19 situation.
The announcement follows consultation with unions and regions in January 2020 and a full review of performance at Rugby World Cup 2019, where rankings upsets and the impressive performances in particular of Japan, Fiji, Uruguay, Tonga and Georgia cut the performance gap, with the average winning margin between established and emerging unions decreasing in comparison with 2015 benchmarks.
The Americas will deliver two direct places, while Oceania will deliver a direct qualifier with a further direct place available following a play-off with Asia. The Rugby Europe Championship (two direct places), Rugby Africa Cup (one direct place) and Final Qualification Tournament (one direct place) will provide the other qualifiers. Further details are provided below.
RWC 2023 qualification principles
- Americas: the Americas will qualify two teams by September 2022. The third best team in the region will enter the Final Qualification Tournament – Americas 1 & Americas 2
- Europe: the existing Rugby Europe Championship will have two qualifying places, with the two best teams in March 2022 qualifying directly and the third placed entering the Final Qualification Tournament – Europe 1 & Europe 2
- Africa: the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 winner will qualify directly and the runner-up team will go to Final Qualification – Africa 1
- Oceania: a home and away play-off between Tonga and Samoa in 2021 will determine the direct qualifier for the Oceania region. – Oceania 1
The loser will then play the Oceania Rugby Cup 2021 winner in the highest ranked team’s country with the eventual winner contesting Asia / Pacific (see below) as Oceania 2
- Asia / Pacific: the winner of the Asian Rugby Men’s Championship 2021 will play Oceania 2 home and away. The winner on aggregate will determine the qualifier and the loser will go to Final Qualification – Asia / Pacific 1
- Final Qualification Tournament: the tournament in November 2022 will feature four teams playing in a round-robin format with the winner qualifying for RWC 2023 – Final Qualification winner
Teams already qualified: South Africa, England, New Zealand, Wales, Japan, France (host), Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina, Fiji
World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “With the global pandemic having halted most rugby activity, confirmation of the global qualification process for Rugby World Cup 2023 provides a beacon of excitement for all, including players and fans.
“The process that has been developed via full consultation with our regional associations and member unions will provide a genuine opportunity for full member unions to qualify for our showcase men’s 15s event.
“Maximising existing regional competitions, the process is good for regions and unions in managing costs for organisers and participants alike, which is important as we all recover from the global pandemic.
“On behalf of World Rugby, I’d like to wish all teams involved the best of luck on their journey to France 2023.”
Rugby World Cup France 2023 CEO Claude Atcher added: “This qualification process gives emerging unions an opportunity to take part in our sport’s biggest competition.
“The success of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and performances by the host nation is a testimony of rugby’s expansion globally. As the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is about to be won, I welcome this optimistic prospect of reconnecting with the excitement of our sport. This is the start of our journey towards France 2023, which will be the best tournament ever delivered.”
Final details of the regional competition formats and dates will be announced in due course.
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