Dubai to host qualification tournament to decide final Rugby World Cup spot

Sevens Stadium to welcome Portugal, USA, Hong Kong and Kenya in November

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 03:  A general view of action during day three of the Emirates Dubai Rugby Sevens - HSBC Sevens World Series match between Wales and South Africa on December 3, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.  (Photo by Tom Dulat - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)
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Dubai will host the qualification tournament for the final place at next year's men's Rugby World Cup in France, World Rugby announced on Monday.

Taking place on November 6-18 at the Sevens Stadium, the tournament will feature Hong Kong, Kenya, the USA and Portugal in a round-robin format. The winners will go into Pool C at the World Cup, alongside Wales, Australia, Fiji and Georgia.

The match days will be held over three consecutive weekends, with the opening round of games scheduled for Sunday, November 6, and the second round for Saturday, November 12, before the tournament concludes with the final match day on Friday, November 18.

The tournament fixtures and match officials will be announced in due course, World Rugby said.

“There is only one remaining ticket for Rugby World Cup 2023, and it will all come down to a fantastic Final Qualification Tournament hosted in Dubai this November," World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said.

"The four participating teams have proven their worth during a challenging qualifying process that started in March 2021 and they will give their absolute best to join the France 2023 adventure. Rugby fans worldwide can expect an outstanding and hard-fought tournament.

“We are also delighted to partner with Dubai for this important milestone. Dubai and its Sevens Stadium are an iconic rugby stronghold and represent an ideal and neutral location for teams coming from the four corners of the globe, with world-class infrastructures for teams to perform.”

Portugal booked their place in Dubai after placing third in the Rugby Europe Championship 2021 and 2022 combined standings. They will be joined at the final qualification tournament by Kenya, who earlier this month were runners-up to Namibia in the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 in France.

The USA, meanwhile, will aim to maintain their perfect World Cup qualification record since 1995 when they compete in the tournament. They booked their place after narrowly losing to 52-51 on aggregate to Chile in the Americas 2 play-off.

Completing the line-up, Asia Rugby Championship winners Hong Kong will try to qualify for the first time.

The Rugby World Cup will be played in France for the second time from September 8 next year. The country also hosted the tournament in 2007.

South Africa are the defending champions having won their third Webb Ellis Cup by beating England in the 2019 final at the International Stadium Yokohama, Japan – the first time the World Cup had been hosted in Asia.

Updated: July 25, 2022, 10:32 AM