Scotland are now just one game away from Rugby World Cup after nations pull out

Scotland Women are now just one game away from this year’s Rugby World Cup in New Zealand after Samoa and Hong Kong withdrew from qualifying.

As the top ranked team, the Scots are straight through to the final of the Final Qualification Tournament where they will meet the winners of the Kazakhstan v Colombia semi-final.

The final of the repechage event will take place in Dubai on Friday 25 February (kick-off 7pm local time / 3pm GMT). The semi-final is on Saturday 19 February.

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Hong Kong and Samoa’s withdrawal is due to “insurmountable logistical challenges caused by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic”, said World Rugby in a statement.

Chloe Rollie scored the last-gasp try which saw Scotland reach the Final Qualification Tournament. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Hong Kong had been due to participate in the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship which was to be a feeder event for the Final Qualification Tournament, while Samoa had already qualified for Dubai.

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A statement from World Rugby said: “Despite an exhaustive effort by all parties, including discussions with relevant authorities, ultimately the combination of the dynamic nature of the pandemic, lockdown restrictions in Hong Kong, challenges regarding re-entry into Samoa – which includes a six-month return moratorium for anyone who tests positive outside of the country – and uncertainty of available MIQ places for the 26 Samoan players returning to New Zealand, mean that both teams are presently unable to travel to Dubai.”

Bryan Easson’s Scotland side reached the Final Qualification Tournament by finishing second in the European qualifying tournament, beating Ireland in a nailbiting last game thanks to late try from Chloe Rollie, converted by Sarah Law.

The Scots have not qualified for the World Cup since 2010.

World Rugby chairman Sir Bill Beaumont said: “Our thoughts go out to the players and management who have worked tirelessly in preparation for this tournament and we would like to reassure them that every avenue was explored in attempt to find a solution to this unique and challenging situation.”

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