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Day: December 1, 2022

What difficulties will the Rugby World Cup Final Qualifier face in 2023?

We take a look at what it would mean for Pool C as four teams compete in Dubai for the 20th and final ticket to France in 2023. In December 2020, the draw for Rugby World Cup 2023 was made, and Wales, Australia, and Fiji took up three of the five spots in Pool C. Those three teams qualified on their thanks to third-place pool finishes or better at the previous tournament in Japan. The other two spots were given to Europe 1 and the winner of the Final Qualifier.

By finishing at the top of the combined standings for the Rugby Europe Championship in 2021 and 2022, Georgia became the 15th team to qualify for the main competition in France in March of this year.

The Final Qualification Tournament, which will take place in Dubai between November 6 and 18, will determine who will fill the remaining one spot after the Lelos become the Europe 1 qualifier.

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Along with Wales, Australia, Fiji, and Georgia, four teams from the United States, Portugal, Kenya, and Hong Kong are in the running to participate in what appears to be a highly competitive pool.

In the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini, Wales is seventh on 81.28, Australia is ninth on 80.65, Fiji is 12th on 75.08, and Georgia is 13th on 74.51, covering the four confirmed participants in Pool C.

Since each team is capable of defeating the other on their day, it seems impossible to predict which of the teams will finish in the top two and advance to the knockout stages at this point.

Only Wales and Australia, winners of the 1991 and 1999 Rugby World Cups, have made it this far in the semifinals.

Fiji has only made it to the quarterfinals, but they have a history of upsets, as Wales discovered to their cost at the 2007 tournament in France.

Even though Georgia has only participated in five tournaments and has never advanced beyond the pool stage, their increased exposure to matches against some of the more established nations over the past four Rugby World Cup cycles has only served to increase their competitiveness.

Pool C permutations

If you finish in the top three pools at Rugby World Cup 2023, you automatically qualify for the next tournament, which is probably the goal of the Final Qualifier.

Kenya and Hong Kong have never competed at the Rugby World Cup because they have never stepped foot on the world’s largest sporting event.

It would be extremely unusual for the United States to not reach France. They have only failed to qualify for a Rugby World Cup once before, in 1995.

The Eagles have faced Australia eight times, including three times during the Rugby World Cup (1987, 1999, and 2011), which could be their opponents on October 1.

Despite playing Georgia and Wales a total of 13 times, the USA has never met them at a Rugby World Cup.

The last time the Lelos played the Eagles, they won 21-20 in Tbilisi in 2017. The two teams have a record of three wins each, but Wales has lost all seven of their games against them.

Portugal, on the other hand, is hoping to participate in their second Rugby World Cup after competing at the first one, which France hosted.

The draw for RWC 2023 ensures that Os Lobos will face a new opponent at this level, as they last played against New Zealand, Scotland, Italy, and Romania in 2007.

Having said that, ever since Portugal was promoted to the second-tier competition in 2019, Georgia has faced them in the Rugby Europe Championship every year.

Os Lobos have managed three draws over those 19 years, the most recent occurring in February 2022 when they defeated the Lelos 25-25 in Tbilisi. Portugal has failed to defeat Georgia in their 17 previous matches.

That result brought an end to Georgia’s 20-game winning streak in the Rugby Europe Championship and solidified Portugal’s growing reputation under Patrice Lagisquet as head coach.

Portugal will look to their match against Georgia on September 23 in Toulouse as their best chance of winning if they qualify.

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Portugal has lost both of their previous matches against Fiji, but neither of those defeats would be considered a cricket score.

Portugal has never played Australia, and Wales defeated Portugal 102-11 in their only meeting in 1994. But that was during the amateur era, so it has nothing to do with what might happen in a rematch on September 16 in Nice.

The guessing game will be over on November 18, when the 20th and final team competing in RWC 2023 will be announced.

Final Qualifier Pool C fixtures:

Saturday 16 September, v Wales, Nice
Saturday 23 September, v Georgia, Toulouse
Sunday 1 October, v Australia, Saint-Étienne
Sunday 8 October, v Fiji, Toulouse

After drawing with the USA in a crucial match in Dubai with the final kick, Portugal has qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

With a 16-16 victory in the final match of the Final Qualification Tournament in Dubai, Portugal secured their spot.

They become the final team to qualify for France 2023 after finishing first in the final qualifier on a points difference. Portugal will participate in the Rugby World Cup for the second time since 2007 and will be in Pool C with Australia, Wales, Fiji, and Georgia. This means that the USA, which will host the tournament in 2031, will not participate for the first time since 1995.

This means that Portugal will join Wales, Australia, Fiji, and Georgia in Pool C at the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

“It’s hard to explain, it’s one of the best feelings in the world,” Portugal captain Tomás Appleton said. “For the rugby community this is amazing, we’ve been missing [from Rugby World Cup] for quite some time and we need a new generation to inspire the kids.”

Earlier on Friday, Hong Kong mounted a second-half comeback to beat Kenya 22-18 and claim third place in the standings.

For Mitchell, opening the pool beyond the three-player limit is key although he stressed it wouldn’t be a free for all.

“I also think maybe they need to broaden that Giteau Law just a little bit,” Mitchell added.

“When I say open it up, it’s not for 20 players by any means, it might just be four or five. 

“We need to go over here and be at our competitive best, and whatever Dave Rennie Wallabies coach thinks that squad looks like, give him the chance to pick it. 

“You’re not going to pick 20 players. By opening it up, you still only pick five players, but having the allowance and the ability for Dave Rennie to do that is paramount.

“It’s his job. He’s based on his results as well, Rennie and the coaching staff, so why would he not want to go to a World Cup with the best team available to him?

“Our coaches have been picked from overseas so why can’t our players be? I think, personally, open it up, but by saying that I don’t mean, 10, 15, 20 players Maybe a handful.”

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Taking in Qatar 2022’s atmosphere: How it feels to be dry at a World Cup

Many soccer fans throughout the world enjoy the habit of drinking alcohol before, during, and after games. However, alcohol is not being as easily accessible in Qatar in 2022.

Due to FIFA’s confirmation of an alcohol ban at the eight stadiums hosting the 2022 World Cup two days before the tournament’s start, this is the case.

While some fans applauded the decision, others, like English student Arnov Paul-Choudhury, 21, who is 21 years old, were left perplexed and frustrated.

“It’s the World Cup, its football, you need to be able to drink around the stadium,” Paul-Choudhury told CNN Sport in Doha on the day of the announcement. “I just don’t think they’re doing the right things to attract fans.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino disagreed, saying fans would “survive” not being able to drink “for three hours a day” and, on the whole, he’s been proven right.

After the World Cup began, CNN spoke to several fans about the alcohol ban, and they didn’t seem to be too bothered by it or the lack of it in the stadiums.

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“I’d normally have a few beers, but I think everyone is just getting on with it,” England fan Nick Cottrill told CNN at the FIFA Fan Festival.

“Everyone here is just really happy and there is so much negativity back home. It’s all running well,” added Cottrill who was visiting Qatar with his father, Gary.

There were one potential downside about not being able to drink at stadiums, according to the Cottrill in that from their experience matches were a bit less boisterous, though that’s not necessarily been a bad thing.

“Normally, so many people go over the top,” Gary Cottrill told CNN. “It’s fine to have alcohol, but those people who come for the sake of causing trouble and being obnoxious are being stopped from coming.”

Sourcing alcohol

Since Qatar was chosen to host the World Cup 12 years ago, the sale and use of alcohol have been a very divisive topic.

The Muslim nation is seen as being extremely conservative, and alcohol sales and consumption are strictly regulated.

Being intoxicated in public is against the law in Qatar, and offenders risk legal repercussions.

According to UK government advice on traveling to Qatar, drinking in a public place could “result in a prison sentence of up to six months and/or a fine up to 3,000 Qatar Rial ($824).”

Qatar had announced in September that it will allow ticketed soccer fans to purchase alcoholic beverages at World Cup games beginning three hours before kickoff and continuing for one hour after the final whistle, but not during the game itself.

Then, two days before the opening game, FIFA announced that no alcohol will be sold at the stadiums hosting the 64 games of the tournament. FIFA announced in a statement that only specific fan parks and other locations with permits would offer alcohol in the Doha area.

Even yet, there are still some fans that can pay to drink during games. Supporters can purchase a match hospitality package for a range of services, including alcohol, at prices ranging from $950 to $4,950 per match.

The UK government has advised that expatriates residing in Qatar can purchase alcohol through a permission system and that alcohol is also accessible at authorized hotel restaurants and bars throughout Doha.

Between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m., Budweiser beer is also sold at the FIFA Fan Festival, so attendees who wish to drink can do so without any problem.

However, many World Cup attendees who traveled great distances to be in Qatar didn’t do so to replenish their supply of alcohol.

“That’s not what we’re here for,” US fan Deya Banisakher, 30, told CNN.

Banisakher is in Doha to follow the US Men’s National Team (USMNT) with his partner, Mireya Jurado.

Like many, the couple says the restrictions around drinking outside venues have had very little impact on their trip.

“We’re here to watch the football matches, soak up the culture. The architecture is beautiful. We’re having a great time,” explained Jurado.

In the capital of Qatar, there is a noticeable sense of family, with supporters taking advantage of the city when they aren’t watching games.

The Souq Waqif neighborhood in downtown Doha is a favorite among supporters and is regularly crowded with thousands of people cheering on various teams. Even though fans are frequently crammed into small spaces, interactions are always cordial.

Of course, this could still happen if there is alcohol present, but major soccer events have in the past been marred by fan violence and hooliganism that has not yet been seen at Qatar 2022.

According to a study ordered by the English Football Association, excessive alcohol and drug usage significantly detracted from the Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

A safer World Cup?

One expert claims that the absence of alcohol near stadiums during Qatar 2022 has also decreased the possibility of crowd-related issues developing into significant incidents.

“Let’s consider if you’re taking your family to watch a match,” Dr. Sean Mottaleb, senior healthcare leader who works for the emergency, crisis, and disaster preparedness team at Qatar 2022, told CNN.

“Would you feel safe if you have somebody who is intoxicated sitting next to you and they don’t have that much control over their behavior?

“I would say this event is not only for hardcore football fans, it’s for everybody. It’s for everybody around the world. Everybody has the right to enjoy; everybody has the right to feel safe.”

Mottaleb claims he is content with how the competition has played out so far in terms of security and medical concerns.

There haven’t been many crowd-related problems, and Mottaleb contends that the tournament’s decision to forbid alcohol near stadiums was made for security reasons in addition to cultural ones.

“We measure the risks associated with those who are intoxicated, and the risk becomes higher,” he said.

“Sometimes, you might have small incidents right, left and center and those incidents might lead to what we call an [snowball] effect, a major incident.

“So, since you know that there is a risk, there is a potential for harm, what would you do? You eliminate that element.”

With lots of time left before the World Cup ends on December 18, anything is possible.

However, there is a perception that this World Cup has demonstrated that soccer can be enjoyed without excessive drinking.

The fans are more amused that the matter is receiving so much attention in their home nations when all they want to see is an exciting play on the field.

Despite what Mottaleb claimed, an alcohol ban in the 2026 competition, which will be held in Mexico, the US, and Canada, is extremely unlikely.

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