One path to France has passed. Two more remain.
After an exciting exhibition win over the French Barbarians, the USA Eagles are back in official Test action this weekend with the Americas 2 World Cup Qualifier playoff all set. We’ll break it all down here.
What’s at Stake?
A guaranteed spot in Rugby World Cup 2023 in France. The winner will take the final place in Group D alongside England, Japan, Argentina, and Samoa.
For the loser, the Americas 3 place in the Final Qualification Tournament (FQT) will serve as a cold comfort. That side will join the following:
- Portugal (representing Europe)
- Kenya (representing Africa)
- One of Tonga/Hong Kong (representing Asia/Oceania)
Tonga will almost certainly represent Asia/Oceania.
The FQT is structured as a round-robin. Neither Chile nor the USA would be clear favorites to claim the final spot. Who ever does win the FQT will join Group C alongside Australia, Wales, Fiji, and Georgia.
Americas 2 Playoff Structure
Like last last year’s series against Canada and Uruguay, the USA/Chile series is a two legged competition. The series will start in Chile for Game 1 before moving to Denver for Game 2. The winning side will be determined on aggregate score.
Keys to Victory
At risk of sounding cliched and oversimplifying, this series will be won at the breakdown and the scrum. Chile is built to play slow, powerful rugby. The Condores’ powerful scrum has pushed Gary Gold to use his biggest men in the front row and opt for a 6-2 bench split.
For the Eagles, a faster game is the goal. The USA is built to play through the halfbacks. Ruben de Haas and AJ MacGinty will look to sling the ball around and kick for space in hopes that they can run Chile out of gas and open up the game. Ball speed at the ruck will be key for both sides, especially when the USA is in possession.