The Rugby Americas North (RAN) and Sudamerica Rugby (SAR) regions have produced some of the most charismatic players in the tournament’s history, despite the Americas’ nine-year wait to host the first-ever Rugby World Cup.
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Since the first Rugby World Cup in 1987, four teams from the Americas—Argentina, the United States, Canada, and Uruguay—have competed on the sport’s biggest stage, with Los Pumas’ bronze-medal performance at the 2007 tournament in France, led by Agustin Pichot, unquestionably the highlight.
A top-three group finish at the most recent competition in Japan guaranteed Argentina’s spot in Rugby World Cup 2023. Since then, two more Sudamerican countries have joined them, with Uruguay and Chile qualifying as the Americas 1 and Americas 2 teams, respectively.
The Rugby World Cup qualification process gave South American countries like Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, and Colombia the chance to compete and give us new heroes and plotlines, as well as offering Uruguay another chance to perform on the biggest stage in the sport.
In the meanwhile, it was revealed that due to the continuous interruption brought on by the COVID-19 virus, only the USA and Canada would participate in the Rugby Americas North (RAN) qualifications.
On June 26, 2021, the Americas qualification process got underway in So Jose dos Campos. Brazil hosted Paraguay and defeated them 29-0 to go to the Sudamerica Rugby 3 Nations (SAR 3) together with Chile, who received a walkover over Colombia, which was suffering from COVID.
With wins over Chile (15-10) and Brazil (39-13), Uruguay entered the competition at this point. Los Teros, who topped the SAR 3 Nations table, qualified for a play-off against the Rugby Americas North (RAN 1) qualifier for the chance to represent Americas 1 at the Rugby World Cup in 2023.
The Americas 2 play-off qualifier will be decided by Chile’s home and away matches against the team that finishes second to Uruguay in the USA-Canada series (RAN 2). Chile’s 23-13 victory over Brazil ensured that they finished second to Uruguay and, as a result, Los Condores lived to fight another day.
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In September, as Canada hosted the United States in St. John’s, the Americas qualification race moved to the far north with Uruguay and Chile’s aspirations still alive and Brazil, Paraguay, and Colombia’s dreams destroyed.
The Eagles should have won based on their recent head-to-head record, but the host team defeated them 34-21. However, Canada was unable to defend a 13-point lead, and the Eagles turned the tables on them in Colorado, defeating 38-16 on the night and 59-50 overall.
In the Americas 1 play-off versus Uruguay, USA had the home-field advantage and used it well, winning 19-16. However, Los Teros dominated the second leg in Montevideo to win 34-15 and qualify for the Rugby World Cup as Americas 1 for the first time in their history, 50-34 on aggregate, leaving the Eagles to regret their 16-point deficit.
At the Rugby World Cup 2023, Uruguay will play in Pool A as the Americas 1, where they will face New Zealand, the tournament’s hosts France, Italy, and the winner of the Rugby Africa Cup in 2022, Namibia.
After Uruguay advanced, Canada and Chile would play each other in October 2021 to determine who would face the United States in the Americas 2 decider. Robbie Povey’s last-second penalty helped Kingsley Jones’ team defeat Chile 22–21 in the first leg, but Chile won 34–15 the next week, ending Canada’s illustrious history of being ever-present in Rugby World Cups.
The home-and-away matches between Chile and the United States in July 2022 for the Americas 2 ticket were appropriate for the occasion and the reward up for grabs: a spot in Pool D at the Rugby World Cup 2023 alongside England, Argentina, Japan, and Samoa.
Chile, which had lost the first leg at home 22-21, appeared to be out of options when they gave up three tries in the first five minutes of the second leg in Colorado, leaving them 20 points adrift in the draw.
Los Condores put up a spirited fight, though, and Santiago Videla’s late penalty handed them their first lead, breaking the hearts of the home crowd as they won 31-29 and qualified for the Rugby World Cup in 2023.
The USA will have one final opportunity to redeem themselves by earning a spot in the final qualifying tournament in November 2022. They will face off against the Rugby Europe Championship 2022’s third-placed team, Portugal, the loser of the Asia/Pacific play-off, either Tonga or Hong Kong, and the Rugby Africa Cup 2022’s runners-up, Kenya.