Rugby World Cup

Samoa pulls out of Rugby World Cup qualifying due to COVID-19 issues

Lakapi Samoa will no longer send a team to the Final Qualification Tournament, which is due to take place in Dubai next month.

The fact anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 outside of Samoa cannot return for six months and worries over players based in New Zealand not being assured of quarantine places after the tournament were both cited as reasons for Samoa's withdrawal.

The Hong Kong Rugby Union has pulled out of the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship, which offered qualification through to the last-chance qualifier, again citing coronavrius concerns.

Dates for women's Rugby World Cup confirmed

The 12-team tournament which was due to be held this year in Auckland and Whangarei was postponed due to Covid-19.

The new dates mean the tournament will be extended from 35 to 43 days, meaning all teams will have a minimum of five rest days between matches in align with the approach recently approved for the men's competition.

The extension of the tournament window also allows for a revamped tournament format that will see all matches take place on Saturdays and Sundays with no overlap.

Newcastle's Mulipola outlines ambition to help Samoa qualify for 2023 World Cup

Newcastle’s Mulipola has played in two World Cups and missed the 2015 tournament due to injury but remains a significant front row force, as he showed for the Falcons in their European Challenge Cup quarter-final loss to former club Leicester on Saturday, starting as tighthead and then switching to loosehead as the match unfolded.

Despite the continuing uncertainty over travel caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 34-year-old, who has won 33 caps for Samoa, has informed former teammate Mapusua he is committed to supporting the bid to qualify for France in 2023.

Rugby World Cup rest periods welcomed, timing questioned

The pool phase will be extended by a week, ensuring teams will have at least five days to prepare for all matches, while squad sizes will be increased from 31 to 33 players.

PRPW said that since 2003 the scheduling of Rugby World Cup matches has "brazenly prejudiced Tier 2 nations" and said the latest reforms are long overdue.

"This is a significant step towards a tournament that fully respects the ideals of fair play, and it will make a great difference to the Pacific Island teams," said former Manu Samoa international and PRPW CEO Dan Leo.

Preparation for Rugby World Cup in NZ pushed back several months for women's Six Nations sides

The Women’s Six Nations was due to start on February 6, the same weekend as the men’s tournament, but coronavirus lockdowns across the UK and Europe have prevented it from going ahead as planned.

England, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France and Italy’s preparation for the Rugby World Cup, being hosted by New Zealand in September, will again be delayed, following three fixtures in the 2020 cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Samoa continue preparation for Rugby World Cup tilt

Nine teams have already qualified for next year's World Cup in New Zealand, including the world champion Black Ferns, Australia and Fiji from Oceania, and the Manusina are one step closer after overwhelming Tonga 40-0 in Auckland on the weekend.

Although a date for the tournament is still undecided, coach Ramsey Tomokino said they're charging ahead for a spot in the 2021 Rugby World Cup.

Australia's 2027 Rugby World Cup bid gets multi-million dollar boost

The government gave A$1 million in initial funding to the bid last year.

Hosting the tournament is projected to deliver A$2 billion in direct and indirect expenditure, bring in more than 200,000 international visitors for the six-week duration and create 12,000 jobs, Rugby Australia said in a statement.

“I want to thank Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Australian Government for supporting Australia’s bid to host the 2027 Rugby World Cup,” Rugby Australia Chairman Hamish McLennan said in the statement.

Flying Fijians coaching team confirmed

Former New South Wales Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson, current Crusaders assistant coach Jason Ryan and former test referee Glen Jackson have signed on to help their Kiwi compatriot, while breakdown specialist Richie Gray previously worked with Cotter during his time in charge of Scotland and Montpellier.

2023 RWC qualification process finalised

Twelve teams -- South Africa, England, New Zealand, Wales, Japan, France, Australia, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, Argentina and Fiji -- have already qualified by virtue of their top three finishes in their respective pools at last year's World Cup.

Seven of the eight remaining spots will be finalised via regional and cross-regional qualifiers, while a four-team round-robin tournament will determine the final qualifier.

Unofficial Rugby World Cup proposed for 2021

The Telegraph says the proposed tournament would be a 16 team competition and be held in June and July next year.

The plan has been submitted World Rugby with a working title of the 'Coronavirus Cup of World Rugby'.

The plan has been drawn up by Francis Baron, the former head of the England RFU.

The Telegraph reports it would involve 31 matches over six weeks and would mean the postponement of the British and Irish Lions tour of South Africa.

Baron said all of the profits would be distributed to the unions to support professional and community games.