World Rugby ruling on implications of Russia's suspension sees Lelos book place at France 2023
Georgia qualify for Rugby World Cup 2023
The Lelos’ qualification was confirmed after World Rugby ruled that they would be awarded four points for their Rugby Europe Championship (REC) match against Russia, which was originally postponed because of the conflict in Ukraine but will now not take place following Russia’s suspension from all international and cross-border rugby competitions.
Those match points take them to 35 in the qualification table, which combines REC results from 2021 and 2022, and they are now guaranteed to finish in the top two and qualify for France 2023 as either Europe One or Europe Two.
Following the suspension of Russia, World Rugby determined that all existing REC results from matches involving Russia in 2021 and 2022 would stand. Scheduled matches that haven’t been played will be treated as abandoned and so opponents Georgia, Netherlands and Portugal have each been awarded four match points.
Georgia need just one more match point to secure the Europe One spot, so as long as they pick up the minimum of a losing bonus point against Romania this weekend or Spain on 20 March they will go into Pool C with Australia, Wales, Fiji and the Final Qualifier winner.
Europe Two will join Ireland, Scotland, South Africa and Asia/Pacific One in Pool B while the team that finishes third in the combined table will go into the Final Qualifier tournament later this year.
There are three teams in the mix for those two slots. Spain and Portugal are now level on 25 points following the World Rugby ruling, but Spain have an extra game to play. Romania are currently fourth in the standings with 22 points and also have two matches left to play.
If Romania lose to Georgia on Saturday, whoever wins Spain v Portugal on Sunday will book their place at a men’s World Cup for the first time since 1999 or 2007 respectively. Of course, if they draw there are even more ramifications.
It could come down to the final round when Romania travel to the Netherlands and Spain head to Georgia. It’s certainly all to play for!
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