Manu Samoa on Saturday, 17 July won the two-legs play off wtih the ‘Ikale Tahi to become the Oceania No. 1 representative for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.
The Manu Samoa had dominated the two-legs play off, by beating the ‘Ikale Tahi at their first encounter on 10 July at the Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland 42-13, then again 37-15 on Saturday, 17 July, at Hamilton.
However, the ‘Ikale Tahi still have another chance to qualify for the 2023 Rugby World Cup, with two more matches - first by playing the Cook Islands in New Zealand this coming weekend. The winner of that match qualifies for the Asia/Pacific Play-off against the winner of the Asia Rugby Championship 2021, which will take place sometime next year 2022.
The winner of the Asia/Pacific Play-off will qualify for the Rugby World Cup 2023 as Asia-Pacific 1.
The ‘Ikale Tahi have had a rough ride since it embarked on the process of trying to qualify for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
In its first international game for 2021 Tonga was thrashed by the All Blacks 102-0 on 3 July, then by the Manu Samoa.
Manager of the ‘Ikale Tahi, Lano Fonua, said that the unfortunate situation was because most of Tonga’s international rugby players are playing in Europe and because of the COVID-19, they are stranded there, whereas Samoa had more New Zealand based players.
“The Pacific Nations Cup always works out that way, sometimes it falls in our favour, other times it goes the other way.”