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Wales Limp into Semis with French Win

Wales will play the winner of the final quarter-final between South Africa and Japan in the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup after seeing off France

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(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Wales have limped into the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in Japan with a 20-19 victory over France in what was a poor performance this morning. 

The Welsh needed a try in the final minutes of the game to win against the 14-men of France as Warren Gatland’s men just about made it to the final four of the competition. 

It was the French that got off to a flying start as they looked to cause an upset. Using the ball in open play and putting Wales under pressure deep in their own half. 

That pressure paid off after six minutes when from a line-out they drove toward the Welsh line and within a couple of phases they were over the line as lock Sebastien Vahaamahina barged over from close range. Youngster Romain Ntamack hit the post with the conversion leaving it at 5-0. 

Two minutes later and things got even better for Les Bleus as Virimi Vakatawa showed great vision to break through a gap in his own half before passing to Ntamack who drew in defenders before he sent it to Antoine Dupont, who in turn popped it to Charles Ollivon race over for the second try in as many minutes. Ntamack made no mistake with the kick this time around.

The frantic start continued, with Wales’ Aaron Wainwright taking full advantage of loose ball in the middle of the pitch, picking it up and showing brilliant pace to dart to the try-line and score. Dan Biggar provided the extras as Wales got back into the game. 

Biggar reduced the deficit even further on the 20 minute mark as he slotted over a penalty to make it 12-10 to the French with a quarter of the match gone. 

However, in the space of five minutes Wales’ good work was undone as Josh Navidi went off injured, being replaced by Ross Moriarty. Moriarty was barely on the pitch and he was off again as he was shown a yellow-card for a high-tackle on Gael Fickou. 

Within two minutes of going down to 14-men and Wales conceded a third try as the French showed great hands, spreading the ball across the back-line, with Damian Penaud sending a beautiful offload in a tackle to Vakatawa who barrelled over. Ntamack pushed France further ahead at 19-10. 

France continued to search for more points over the remaining ten minutes of the half but Wales managed to hold out as it stayed 19-10 in favour of Les Bleus come the half-time whistle. 

The men in blue started the second-half brightly, but things began to change nearly ten minutes in as Vahaamahina was sent off for a reckless elbow into the face of Wainwright, while France were in a position to score another try. 

Minutes later and Biggar cut further into the lead with another penalty to make it 19-13. 

Despite France having only 14-men they looked the more likely to score as Wales failed to show any signs of pushing for a winning score. 

However, with only six minutes left Wales struck the vital blow as replacement scrum-half Tomos Williams ripping the ball out of French hands just in front of the French try-line. Justin Tupuric caught the ball and looked as though he may have gone over himself but was just held short, but Moriarty was on hand to dive over the line to touch the ball down. Biggar slotted over the extras to give Wales the lead for the first time in the match. 

Wales held out to secure a narrow victory at 20-19. 

Next up for Wales is a semi-final against either South Africa or Japan, but they will need a massive improvement if they are to reach their first ever World Cup final.

Wales Player Ratings

Starting XV:

Liam Williams (6), George North (5), Owen Watkin (6), Hadleigh Parkes (6), Josh Adams (5), Dan Biggar (6), Gareth Davies (6); Wyn Jones (6), Ken Owens (6), Tomas Francis (6), Jake Ball (7), Alun Wyn Jones (6), Aaron Wainwright (8), Justin Tipuric (7), Josh Navidi (6)

Replacements (7)

Rugby World Cup

Women’s Rugby World Cup looks set to be postponed.

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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.  

Statement Ends.

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Rugby World Cup

RWC 2023 Pools confirmed.

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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.


Draw seedings

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.

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Rugby World Cup

Qualification process set for Rugby World Cup 2023

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Image from World Rugby
  • 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.

Official Press Release from World Rugby

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