Rugby World Cup 2021 Final Qualification Tournament update
World Rugby and the Hong Kong and Samoa Unions have today confirmed the withdrawal of their women’s 15s teams’ participation in two upcoming tournaments in Dubai.
Hong Kong will no longer be participating in the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship which was due to act as a feeder event for the Rugby World Cup 2021 Final Qualification Tournament, while Samoa will no longer be attending the Final Qualification Tournament.
Despite an exhaustive effort by all parties, including discussions with relevant authorities, ultimately the combination of the dynamic nature of the pandemic, lockdown restrictions in Hong Kong, challenges regarding re-entry into Samoa – which includes a six-month return moratorium for anyone who tests positive outside of the country – and uncertainty of available MIQ places for the 26 players returning to New Zealand, mean that both teams are presently unable to travel to Dubai.
The Asia Rugby Women’s Championship will no longer take place and Kazakhstan will automatically qualify for the Final Qualification Tournament.
As the top ranked team, Scotland will now play in the final match of the tournament on Friday 25 February (kick-off 7pm local time / 3pm GMT). The side will face the winner of Kazakhstan v Colombia, with the semi-final taking place on Saturday 19 February (kick-off 4.30pm local time / 12.30pm GMT).
World Rugby Chairman, Sir Bill Beaumont, said: “Our thoughts go out to the players and management who have worked tirelessly in preparation for this tournament and we would like to reassure them that every avenue was explored in attempt to find a solution to this unique and challenging situation.
“The health and wellbeing of players, staff and spectators continues to be our number one priority as we continue to navigate the dynamic and complex nature of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In collaboration with both Samoa and Hong Kong rugby unions, taking the appropriate measures that mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in line with the relevant authorities is paramount and has underpinned our decision making throughout the duration of the pandemic thus far.
“We remain committed to delivering a safe Final Qualification Tournament for the remaining participating unions and will be working closely with Hong Kong and Samoa to ensure the best-possible 2022 campaign for their women’s 15s teams.”
The RWC 2021 Final Qualification Tournament will be live streamed across World Rugby and RWC 2021 digital and social platforms.