okbet Get to know the four remaining teams in Rugby's 2023 World Cup candidacy

Get to know the four remaining teams in Rugby’s 2023 World Cup candidacy

Rugby World Cup : A group of rugby teams from Hong Kong, Kenya, Portugal, and the United States have landed in Dubai for two weeks with the hopes of making it to the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

The RWC 2023 Final Qualification Tournament, a round robin competition between four teams, will begin on Sunday at The Sevens Stadium and continue through the 18th of November.

The best team in the rankings after three days of play in the United Arab Emirates will earn the 20th and final spot in the tournament in France.

But which sides are in the best shape to compete in the Final Qualification Tournament, and which have the greatest Rugby World Cup pedigree? Get the inside scoop on all the participating countries right here!


There have been several efforts by Hong Kong since the 1995 tournament to qualify for the Rugby World Cup, but they have yet to be successful.

Throughout their early years, they were stymied by Japan, the strongest team in Asia. However, it was a setback to Chinese Taipei in RWC 2003 qualification that ultimately proved fatal.

Hong Kong’s participation in the 2015 RWC was cut short in the repechage after a loss to Uruguay, and their hopes for the 2019 RWC, which featured a round-robin format, were dashed when they finished last of the four teams competing in Marseilles.


As with Hong Kong, Kenya’s first attempt to qualify for the RWC was in 1995. However, after losing to Zimbabwe and Namibia, Kenya’s aspirations were dashed.

Since then, the Simbas have competed in qualification for every Rugby World Cup but have failed to advance to the main event.

Kenya came very near to qualifying for RWC 2015, placing themselves in an excellent position by defeating Namibia, but ultimately missing out on both a trip to England and a spot in the repechage on points difference.

They lost their last qualifying game four years later versus Namibia, preventing them from automatically qualifying for RWC 2019. They had qualified for the repechage and played in Marseille, but they lost all three of their games there—to Canada, Hong Kong, and Germany.


Portugal qualified for and played in the 2007 Rugby World Cup, which was held in France.

Os Lobos waited until the last minute to edge out Uruguay in a two-game aggregate win that was enough to go them through.

Os Lobos’ repechage match against Los Teros resulted in an 18-12 loss to the South American hosts in Montevideo, but a 12-5 win in Lisbon gave them a 24-23 triumph on the road.

This outcome allowed Portugal to get revenge for a humiliating loss they suffered against Uruguay in the 1999 Repechage.

Portugal was awarded a spot in the main tournament’s Pool C, where they will face off against New Zealand, Scotland, Italy, and Romania.

Portugal’s first match of the tournament was a 56-10 loss to Scotland in front of a passionate home crowd in St. Etienne. Winger Pedro Cabral scored Portugal’s first ever Rugby World Cup try in the loss.

Os Lobos’s spirited play throughout the tournament was on full display, even after suffering a crushing 108-13 defeat at the hands of New Zealand in their second match. They went on to lose to Italy 31-5 and Romania 14-10 in nail-biters, with the Oaks coming out on top thanks to two late converted tries.

Portugal lost all of their games in their first Rugby World Cup, but they didn’t let it dampen their spirits.

The United States of America enters the Final Qualification Tournament with more Rugby World Cup experience than any other side.

The team made their Rugby World Cup debut against Japan on May 24, 1987, in Ballymore in Brisbane, Australia, and narrowly defeated the visitors 21-18.

They lost the next two games against Australia and England and had to wait 16 years for their next tournament victory.

Australia finally won the event when it returned to the country in 2003, after losing in the pool stage in both 1991 and 1999. At Central Coast Stadium, the United States of America defeated Japan by a score of 39-26 thanks to five tries scored by their runners.

Since that fateful evening in Gosford, the United States has won just once in the Rugby World Cup, beating Russia 13-6 at RWC 2011 (also in the southern hemisphere) with a try by Mike Petri.

It has been difficult for the United States to get to the quarterfinals of a major event, but they came close to winning their fourth Rugby World Cup in their most recent match.

Mike Te’o scored twice to help the Eagles to a 12-7 halftime lead against Tonga in their last Pool C encounter of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Hanazono.

With three tries to one in the second half, Tonga defeated the United States 31-19 to end the Americans’ winless Rugby World Cup streak at five consecutive tournaments.

Rankings throughout the globe since the last Rugby World Cup in Hong Kong
Despite just playing four tests since Japan 2019, Hong Kong have moved up two places in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini.

Hong Kong moved up two spots and 1.38 points to 22nd position, from 24th in November 2019’s rankings (with 59.65 points) (61.03 points).

With a win in their first match of the Final Qualification Tournament against Portugal, Hong Kong will have a great chance to break into the world’s top 20.


Since the previous Rugby World Cup, Kenya has played just seven tests, winning four of them. Despite this, they have fallen one spot in the standings.

At the start of November 2019, the Simbas were placed 32nd with 52.55 points; now, three years later, they’re rated 33rd with 52.06.

If Kenya beats the United States this weekend, they might move up as many as five spots in the rankings.


No one should be surprised by Os Lobos’ surge in the rankings during this Rugby World Cup cycle, which coincides with what is often regarded as a golden age for Portugal.

A jump from 21st to 20th may not seem like much in terms of forward momentum, but the fact that their rating score went up from 61.34 to 65.08 says it everything about where they are and where they are going.

If Portugal beats Hong Kong this weekend, they will go over the United States and into 19th position, regardless of how the Eagles do in their season opener against Kenya, who is rated lower than Portugal.


There has been a time of change for the United States squad during the previous three years, and this is reflected in a minor drop in the rankings.

After finishing RWC 2019 in 17th place with 68.10 points, the Eagles dropped two spots to finish in the 19th position, dropping nearly three rating points to 65.17 for the Final Qualification Tournament.

The United States has a 13.11-point deficit to Kenya and would likely fall in the standings if they are unable to make up ground this weekend.


Hong Kong has a limited history of test rugby going into the Final Qualifying Tournament.

Hong Kong has only played four times since the conclusion of the previous Rugby World Cup, splitting those contests with two wins and two losses.

Hong Kong got to play Belgium and Spain on the road for the first time on a European trip towards the end of 2019.

After a 36-17 victory in Brussels and a 29-7 loss to Los Leones, the squad seemed to be on the upswing… until COVID-19 struck.

Due to travel restrictions and the financial fallout of the worldwide pandemic, Hong Kong’s 15s test rugby was placed on hold for two and a half years.

But Hong Kong came back strong, defeating Korea 23-21 in Incheon on a penalty kick in the last seconds. As a result, Hong Kong has a shot at competing in the Asia-Pacific Qualifier and advancing straight to the 2023 European Championship in France.

When playing Tonga on neutral ground in Australia, the ‘Ikale Tahi came out on top, 44-22, as was widely predicted.

Hong Kong’s performance, especially in the second half, provides them reason for optimism and areas to improve upon moving into the Final Qualification Tournament, especially considering how little time the team had to prepare under a new head coach.

Kenya enters the Final Qualification Tournament in decent form, having lost just twice in their previous six matches, both times against Namibia.

The Simbas did not play a game between September 2019 and July 2021 because to the effects of the epidemic.

Kenya’s RWC 2023 qualification campaign got off with a 20-19 loss to Senegal, who scored the game-winning converted try in the last play of the game.

After starting the year with a training camp in Stellenbosch, South Africa, Kenya beat Zambia 45-8 to get their qualification campaign back on track.

The Simbas played two matches against Namibia and Brazil while in the country, losing the first by 60-24 after leading 24-19 at halftime. Namibia scored seven tries in the second half.

Six days later, the Simbas regrouped and defeated Brazil 36-30 at Markötter Stadium on the back of five tries that helped them pull off the 66-point thriller.

The Rugby Africa Cup 2022 was held in France in July, and Kenya advanced to the finals after beating Uganda and Algeria. They will play Namibia in a winner-take-all match. The Simbas’ 36-0 loss in Aix-en-Provence destroyed their chances of gaining automatic qualifying to RWC 2023.


Portugal qualified for the Dubai Cup by placing third overall in the combined 2021 and 202 Rugby Europe Championship standings.

Os Lobos’ 25-25 tie with Georgia in the middle of the second part of the qualifying campaign was a high point, but the team’s results and performances gradually declined from there.

Os Lobos’ automatic qualifying aspirations were dealt a blow with a 37-27 loss to Romania in Bucharest, but they got back on track with a 59-3 victory against a struggling Netherlands team.

A sequence of four consecutive losses occurred before the Final Qualification Tournament, but three of them were by razor-thin margins against higher-ranked opponents.

Portugal’s season in the Rugby Europe Championship was mainly successful, but their 33-28 loss to Spain in Madrid was a disappointing conclusion to the year.

After this, Portugal played home to an Italian team riding high after their Six Nations triumph over Wales, and they narrowly lost (38-31).

However, although the South Americans overcame a halftime deficit, they ultimately fell to an Argentina XV by a score of 52-35.

And in their most recent match, back in July in Kutaisi, Portugal gave Georgia a run for their money before succumbing, 23-14.


The United States would have qualified for the RWC 2023 and been prepared to play England, Japan, Argentina, and Samoa in Pool D if not for Santiago Videla’s late penalty in Glendale.

They seemed to have already done all the heavy lifting by winning the first leg of their Americas 2 play-off against Chile 22-21 in Santiago despite the rain.

Sports, though, are won and lost on the slimmest of margins, and the United States’ play since the 2019 Rugby World Cup has been inconsistent at best.

After suffering big losses to England and Ireland on their return to play in July 2021, the squad beat old rivals Canada 59-50 on aggregate to keep their quest for a trip to France on track.

With the victory, they advanced to a two-legged Americas 1 playoff against Uruguay, which they ultimately lost 50-34 in despite winning the first leg, 19-16, at home.

After losing 104-14 to the All Blacks in Washington, Eagles supporters had some good news when their team beat the French Barbarians 26-21 in Houston.

A boot from Videla put out the fire at Infinity Park, and the United States now travels to Dubai having won only three of nine tests since Japan.

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