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

The Rugby World Cup 2021 European qualifier reaches it’s finale this weekend – and a dramatic finale it should be.

This tournament was originally 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.

This qualifier has proved to be worth waiting for, however, with the all four nations involved level on points going into the final round. Who is going to come out on top?

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.

Going into the final round, the four teams are ranked seventh to tenth (Ireland, Italy, Spain, Scotland) in the World Rugby Rankings, illustrating why this tournament is so competitive.

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?

The three match days are each six days apart, on 13, 19 and 25 September, with 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 and results:

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.

What’s the state of play going into the final round?

All four teams have won one match and lost one match in the tournament to date so are level on five points ahead of their final game, with only points difference currently separating them.

So it all comes down to the two matches in Parma this afternoon. Italy – currently top of the table thanks to the margin of their opening victory over Scotland – take on Spain in the early kick-off before Ireland face Scotland.

If Italy win, Ireland will know as long as they achieve the same match points as the Azzure against Scotland – whether four points for a standard win or five for a bonus-point win – they will top the table because they beat Italy in the last round.

That is just one of many permutations, though. If two or more teams are level on points at the end of the tournament, this is how their positions in the table are decided:

  1. The winner of the match in which the two tied teams have played each other shall be the higher ranked
  2. The team which has the best difference between points scored for and points scored against in all its pool matches shall be the higher ranked
  3. The team which has the best difference between tries scored for and tries scored against in all its pool matches shall be the higher ranked
  4. The team which has scored most points in all its pool matches shall be the higher ranked
  5. The team which has scored most tries in all its pool matches shall be the higher ranked
  6. If none of the above produce a result, then it will be resolved with a toss of a coin.

Let’s hope it doesn’t come down to the toss of a coin!

Are matches available to watch on TV?

All 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, with BBC Alba and RTE2 both showing the final match between Ireland and Scotland live.

What are the team line-ups?

These are the four team selections for the final round of the tournament on 25 September.

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