Los Condores go into Pool D at France 2023 after one-point aggregate win over USA
Chile qualify for Rugby World Cup 2023
A lot of rugby history has been made this month. We’ve had Ireland beating the All Blacks on New Zealand soil for the first time, Wales doing the same against the Springboks in South Africa, France making their debut at No 1 in the World Rugby Rankings (albeit for only a week).
Now Chile have joined rugby’s history makers by qualifying for the Rugby World Cup for the first time ever.
They came through an extremely tight two-legged qualifier against the USA to go through to France 2023 as Americas Two and go into Pool D with Argentina, England, Japan and Samoa.
Los Condores lost the first leg 22-21, although they did score an astonishing try in rain-soaked Santiago – one of the best wet-weather tries ever, and they trailed 19-0 after half an hour of the second leg at Infinity Park in Denver, Colorado.
Yet they were able to get themselves back into the game and a 75th-minute penalty from winger Santiago Videla meant Chile won that leg 31-29 and go through to the World Cup with a one-point aggregate win (52-51) – talk about tight margins!
The USA will be hugely disappointed, especially after putting themselves in such a commanding position.
Two early tries from Martin Iosefo and another from AJ MacGinty meant they were in control, but Chile were able to capitalise while the Eagles had Nick Civetta in the sin-bin.
Marcelo Torrealba and Matias Garafulic both crossed before the break to leave the match finely poised at 19-14.
Joe Taufete’e got another try for the USA soon after the break but Chile were quick to match that with another of their own, this one scored and converted by Videla.
A MacGinty penalty put the Eagles 29-21 up heading into the final quarter, but Chile hit the hosts with a late flourish. First Matias Dittus scored their fourth try and Videla added the conversion to narrow the gap to just one point.
Then came Videla’s crucial late penalty to close out a famous victory and book Chile’s place at next year’s global showpiece. They are coached by Pablo Lemoine, the former Uruguay front-rower who has previously guided los Teros to the World Cup.
The RWC 2023 dream is not over for the USA, though. They will go into November’s Final Qualification Tournament with Portugal, Kenya and the loser of next weekend’s Tonga v Hong Kong play-off to determine who gets the final place at next year’s World Cup.
And organisers will no doubt be hoping it is the Eagles who emerge victorious from that event as they look to build momentum for the 2031 and 2033 World Cups that are being held in the States.
For now, though, it is time to celebrate Chile’s historic feat.
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