Manu Samoa’s path on its quest to qualify for the Rugby World Cup next year in Japan has become a bit clearer.
For instance, we know now that Fuimaono Titimaea Tafua’s team will kick off their campaign at Apia Park on Saturday, 30 June 2018.
The opponent will either be Portugal or Germany.
This was confirmed by World Rugby in a statement.
“Rescheduling is necessary to maximise time following the conclusion of independent disputes committee review of matters relating to the 2017-18 Rugby Europe Championship, a competition run by Rugby Europe that doubles as Rugby World Cup 2019 qualification,” the statement reads.
“Subject to any appeal of the disputes committee's decision, the winner of the European play-off between Germany and Portugal, provisionally scheduled for 9 June will play Samoa home and away in the play-off to determine the final Pool A place. The first leg will be played in Apia on 30 June with the return leg in Europe on 14 July.
“The winner on aggregate will qualify for Japan 2019 as the play-off winner, joining Ireland, Scotland, Japan and Russia in Pool A. The loser will progress to the Repechage competition in November.
“The rescheduled dates will enable the least-possible disruption for Samoa’s European and Southern Hemisphere based players, who will be released under Regulation 9, which covers all Rugby World Cup qualifiers. It also enables all qualifiers to be completed prior to the Repechage competition.
“In order to maximise Samoa’s preparation for these important matches, World Rugby is also funding Samoa’s entry into the 2018 World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup in Fiji between 9-16 June, which features Fiji, Georgia and Tonga.
“World Rugby would like to thank all unions for their patience and full support of the rescheduled fixtures which provide certainty for teams and fans.”