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Rugby World Cup 2021 European Qualifier: All you need to know

The Rugby World Cup 2021 European qualifier finally takes place this month after several Covid-related delays.

It was due to take place in September 2020 and then December of last year, but the pandemic forced the matches to be postponed – and then the World Cup itself was pushed back to 2022.

Now it will take place over three match days in September 2021, with the winner of the round-robin tournament booking a place at the World Cup in New Zealand next year.

Here is all you need to know about the qualifier…

Which teams are involved?

The Rugby World Cup 2021 European qualifier features three teams from the Women’s Six Nations – Ireland, Italy and Scotland – as well as Spain, who won the 2020 Rugby Europe Championship to ensure their involvement.

There are just five places in the World Rugby Rankings separating the four teams, illustrating how competitive the tournament should be. Going into the qualifier, Italy are ranked highest in seventh, followed by Ireland (eighth), Spain (ninth) and Scotland (11th).

How many teams will qualify for the World Cup?

There is just one automatic place available for the teams involved.

The winner of the tournament will go through as Europe One and join Pool B, which features Canada, the USA and Asia One (the winner of the Asia Championship due to take place in October).

The runner-up in the European event will have a second opportunity to book a place at the World Cup by moving into the Final Qualification Tournament (FQT).

Samoa and Colombia have already come through qualifying to reach the four-team FQT, which will be completed by the European runner-up and the Asia Championship runner-up. The FQT winner will complete Pool A alongside New Zealand, Australia and Wales.

When and where are the matches taking place?

There are three match days, each six days apart, on 13, 19 and 25 September. There will be two matches played back-to-back each day, one at 2pm and one at 5pm (kick-offs UK & Ireland time).

Here are the Rugby World Cup 2021 European qualifier fixtures:

Monday 13 September

Scotland 13-38 Italy

Spain 8-7 Ireland

Sunday 19 September

Italy 7-15 Ireland

Spain 22-27 Scotland

Related: Rugby World Cup 2021 European Qualifier Round-up – Day Two

Saturday 25 September

Italy v Spain (2pm)

Ireland v Scotland (5pm)

All six matches in the round-robin tournament will be played at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in Parma, Italy – the home of Zebre.

Are matches available to watch on TV?

All six matches will be streamed live on World Rugby’s Facebook and Twitter accounts as well as its YouTube channel and on rugbyworldcup.com/2021

BBC Alba (Scotland), RTE Sport (Ireland), RAI (Italy) and RTVE (Spain) will also have coverage of the qualifier. BBC Alba will televise Scotland’s matches live.

What are the team line-ups?

These are the four team selections for round two of the tournament on 19 September.

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