The winner of Kazakhstan v Colombia will play Scotland in the final qualifier on 25 February

Hong Kong and Samoa women pull out of Rugby World Cup Final Qualification

Neither Hong Kong or Samoa women will realise their dreams of making it to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, after both teams pulled out of the final qualification tournaments in Dubai due to “insurmountable logistical challenges.”

The move means that only Kazakhstan, Colombia and Scotland are still in the hunt to make the event that kicks off on 8 October and plays through to 12 November. Kazakhstan and Colombia will now play in a semi-final on 19 February, and the winner will face Scotland in a final on 25 February. The winner of that match will go into World Cup Pool A, with New Zealand, Australia and Wales.

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Hong Kong were due to participate in the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship, which would act as a feeder event for the Rugby World Cup 2021 Final Qualification Tournament. Samoa were intending to head straight for that final qualifier matches. However, lockdown restrictions in Hong Kong and Samoa’s policy to enforce a six-month return moratorium for anyone who tests positive outside of their country, contributed to the decision for both sides not to travel.

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.”

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