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Chile shock USA to qualify for 2023 Rugby World Cup

By Ian Cameron
Chile celebrate their landmark victory over the USA.

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Chile have completed an enormous upset after they qualified for the 2023 Rugby World Cup by beating the USA Eagles in their second leg fixture in Denver.

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The Eagles took a scant 1-point advantage into the second leg but were ultimately beaten 31-29 by the South Americans who edged them out by a single aggregate point at Infinity Park in Glendale.

After conceding three tries, Los Condores battled back from 19-0 down. Tries from Marcelo Torrealba, Matías Garafulic, Matías Dittus and Santiago Videla and late penalty from Videla saw the men in red  clinch the narrowest of victories and a historic landmark for the union.

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Head coach Pablo Lemoine has orchestrated a massive turnaround in the fortunes of the Chilean team, who have never featured in the flagship tournament.

They will now take their place in Pool D alongside England, Japan, Argentina and Samoa.

“It really means so much… the sacrifices that this team has done, there were times when it seemed like it was uphill,” Chile captain Martín Sigren said after the game. “I want to thank all the family who came here, they were the ones who kept us pushing.”

Gary Gold’s USA are now left facing a last-chance qualifying tournament in November if they want to avoid the ignominy of missing out on next year’s tournament in France. They will face Portugal, Kenya and the loser of the Asia/Pacific play-off in what is the final backdoor into the tournament.

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“It’s heart-breaking. I feel we worked hard for our scores, especially in first half,” said USA Eagles flyhalf AJ MacGinty. “But credit to Chile, we really had our foot on their throat in the first half. I saw them under their posts, and they had a lost look in their eyes, but they battled back and fair play to them.”

The loss is a serious embarrassment for the Eagles, who will host the Rugby World Cup in 2031 and who will be desperate to avoid the fate of neighbours Canada, who failed to qualify for the tournament.

 

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