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Pandemic impacts Euro qualifiers

Rugby Europe has postponed the upcoming tests between Spain and Russia (Oct 24th) and Spain and Netherlands (Oct 31st)

The games are a vital part of the qualification process for next year’s Women’s Rugby World Cup with the overall winner (Russia has already beaten the Netherlands in the mini tournament) due to take part in the European World Cup qualifiers which consist of a single round-robin tournament on the weekends of 5th, 12th and 19th December 2020.

That series will see Ireland, Scotland and Italy compete with the winner of the above with the overall champion qualifying for the World Cup and the runner-up progressing into the final qualification tournament next year.

The postponement of the games present a headache for World Rugby though there are several paths they could go down.

We do know that the qualifiers will start - because the Italy v Scotland 6 Nations game on December 6 is already doubling up as a qualifying match so World Rugby could just give Rugby Europe more time to get the games played in November or early December just pushing the Qualifier games involving the winner – likely Spain - back a few weeks.

That would seem the best option given Italy, Scotland and Ireland will already be up and running and will be well prepared to get their games done. 

World Rugby could also decide to select Spain, as the highest ranked team, and put them straight into the European Qualifiers so that could even go ahead as planned on the planned dates, but notwithstanding the current challenges the pandemic is bringing to fixtures, that would represent perhaps drastic action.

There are other options too. World Rugby could allow the games to shift into next year, run them alongside the 6 Nations, allow the 6 Nations games not involving Spain to count as European Qualifier games

It may well be that World Rugby provide a date by which the games must be played and push them into next year, along That might push the EC to be run alongside the 6N, with the European Qualifier thereafter. The 6N games not involving Spain could even count as EQ games.

The World Repechage could then take place in about April or May, assuming that Kenya v Colombia and the Asian Championships have happened.

In short nothing is yet a major problem for a September World Cup.

Things are less than ideal, but World Rugby still have plenty of options.