The famous Webb Ellis Cup has made the trip to Apia, Samoa and will be on display at this weekend’s crucial Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifier match between Samoa and Fiji. The qualifier is the final match of the 2017 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup tournament.
The cumulative results of the 2016 and 2017 Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) will be used to determine two Oceania qualifying spots for Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan. In 2016 Fiji won both of its PNC matches to win the tournament and last week Fiji beat Tonga in the 2017 PNC 14-10 to secure the Oceania 1 RWC 2019 qualifying spot. Tonga and Fiji are now battling for the Oceania 2 qualification spot. Samoa is one point behind Tonga in the qualification standings going into the last match with their qualifying destiny in their own hands.
Click HERE for RWC 2019/PNC Qualifying Standings
In terms of the 2017 PNC Tonga leads the tournament on five points after its two matches. Fiji has four points after its win last week and Samoa one point after a narrow loss to Tonga two weeks ago. Not only is a RWC 2019 qualifying spot on the line but the 2017 PNC Championship title.
Rugby fans in Samoa will have a rare opportunity to get up close to the iconic trophy as it goes on display before the match in Apia. The trophy will also make appearances at various rugby clinics in the lead up to the match on the weekend.
The match kicks-off at 14:10 at Apia Park in Apia and will be live on Fiji TV and Sky NZ. It will be broadcast on TV1 in Samoa on a 30-minute delay. The match will also be Live-streamed worldwide on www.worldrugby.org (geo-blocked in Samoa, Fiji and New Zealand).
Samoa Rugby Union Chief Executive Officer Vincent Faleomavaega is delighted the Cup will be in Apia for his team’s important match, “The Webb Ellis Cup is a huge symbol of our sport and we do not see it in the Pacific Islands very often. I urge all rugby supporters to come and see the Cup and be at the match on Saturday to support Manu Samoa.”
“To secure the Oceania 2 qualifying spot ahead of Tonga we have to be at our best and take the match to Fiji who have had some very good results over the last few weeks against Italy, Scotland and Tonga.”
“Manu Samoa desperately wants to put on a good performance in front of their home fans and qualify for RWC 2019 by defeating Fiji this weekend,” Faleomavaega added.
Fiji will start favourites to secure victory and defend their Pacific Nations title but did not have it all their own way against Tonga last weekend. Samoa will have learnt from that match and will be keen to assert themselves and take the match to the visitors. A big crowd of ten thousand turned up to support Tonga last week in Nuku’alofa and a similar crowd is expected at Apia Stadium.
As the Oceania 1 qualifier Fiji will be placed in Pool D in 2019 with Australia, Wales, Georgia and Americas 2. At the conclusion of the match in Apia, Samoa or Tonga will qualify as Oceania 2 for RWC 2019 in Japan and will be placed in Pool C with England, France, Argentina and USA.
The third-place team, either Samoa or Tonga (Oceania 3) will play-off against the second placed team in the Rugby Europe qualifying process (Europe 2) for a place as fifth seed in Pool A with Ireland, Scotland, Japan and Europe 1. The loser of this play-off will go into the repechage tournament for the chance to win the final qualification position in Pool B, facing New Zealand, South Africa, Italy and Africa 1.
The repechage will comprise Oceania 3 or Europe 2, Africa 2 and Americas 3, plus the winner of a two-match series between Oceania 4 (2017 Oceania Cup winner: Cook Islands or Tahiti) and Asia 1.
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