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Tonga head coach Toutai Kefu is one step closer to making the Rugby World Cup final

Wales’ final World Cup rivals to be determined in Dubai

There is only one place left to fill in the 2023 World Cup pools and the winners of a final tournament, due to be played in Dubai in November, will compete alongside Wales in Pool C.

Tonga graduated into the main draw last weekend after their 44-22 win over Lewis Evans’ Hong Kong side in Brisbane in the final of an Asia Pacific qualifying tournament. Former Dragons stalwart Evans will now have one more chance as coach to Hong Kong to take his team to the finals for the first time.

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Tonga have now joined defending champion South Africa, the current World Rugby No1 ranked side Ireland, Scotland and Romania in Pool B. Hong Kong (Asia/Pacific 2), meanwhile, will join the Kenya (Africa 2), Portugal (Europe 3) and USA (Americas 3) in the last chance saloon.

The final qualification Tournament in Dubai will run from 6-18 November and be based on a round robin format. Each team will play the other in three rounds of fixtures on 6, 12 & 18 November at The Sevens Stadium and the team with the most competition points after three rounds will qualify for RWC 2023.

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Portugal were the first to book their place in the Final Qualification Tournament by securing third place in the Rugby Europe Championship 2021-2022 combined standings.  They were joined by Kenya on 10 July after the Simbas finished as runners-up to Namibia in the Rugby Africa Cup 2022 in France.

Kenya also reached this stage in RWC 2019 qualification and are hoping to reach their first World Cup in the 15-a-side game. USA, after narrowly losing to Chile 52-51 on aggregate in the Americas 2 play-off, will want to win the Final Qualification Tournament to maintain their record of having qualified for every World Cup since their only absence in 1995.

Asia Rugby Championship 2022 winners Hong Kong will try to bounce back from their 44-22 defeat against Tonga to qualify for the first time and complete the RWC 2023 line-up.

“The four participating teams have proven their worth during a challenging qualifying process that started in March 2021 and they will give their absolute best to join the France 2023 adventure,” said World Rugby Chairman Sir Bill Beaumont.

“We are also delighted to partner with Dubai for this important milestone. Dubai and its Sevens Stadium are an iconic rugby stronghold and represent an ideal and neutral location for teams coming from the four corners of the globe, with world-class infrastructures for teams to perform.”

The Final Qualification Tournament match schedule and match officials will be announced in due course.

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