Hong Kong and Kazakhstan will compete in a play-off to go to Final Qualification Tournament
Japan qualify for Rugby World Cup 2021
Japan have secured direct qualification to Rugby World Cup 2021, which is being played in New Zealand next year.
Japan, who will play Ireland in November, complete Pool B alongside USA, Canada and Italy.
The Asia One qualifier was due to be determined by the Asia Rugby Championship, which involves Hong Kong, Japan and Kazakhstan.
However, as the tournament has been postponed several times due to the Covid-19 pandemic, World Rugby has revised the pathway so Japan go through as the highest-ranked team in the region. Japan are ranked 12th while Kazakhstan are 15th and Hong Kong 18th.
Hong Kong and Kazakhstan will now compete in a play-off match to determine which country progresses to the Final Qualification Tournament (FQT).
A World Rugby statement said: “World Rugby has confirmed a revision to the RWC 2021 Asia qualification pathway that delivers certainty for teams Japan, Hong Kong and Kazakhstan in light of ongoing travel and quarantine challenges as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic.
“As the highest ranked team in the region, Japan will automatically qualify for Rugby World Cup 2021 and will now join USA, Canada and recently qualified team Italy in Pool B. Kazakhstan and Hong Kong will compete in a play-off match to determine which team progresses to the Final Qualification Tournament.
“The decision, which provides important certainty to the teams, is supported by all unions and enables teams to plan and optimise their high-performance programmes ahead of the pinnacle event in New Zealand next year.”
There is just one place left at RWC 2021, with the FQT winner completing Pool A alongside New Zealand, Australia and Wales.
Colombia, Samoa and Scotland have already booked their place in the round-robin FQT, which will take place in 2022.
Pool C consists of England, France, South Africa and Fiji.
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