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Just two teams left in race for final Rugby World Cup berth

By Ian Cameron
Players of United States line up for their national anthem prior to the RWC 2023 Final Qualifying Tournament match between USA and Hong Kong at The Sevens Stadium on November 12, 2022 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Martin Dokoupil - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Just two teams – Portugal and the USA – are left in the race for the final spot at next year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

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Both sides are two from two in the Rugby World Cup 2023 Final Qualification Tournament which is taking place in Dubai.

Portugal – AKA Os Lobos – thrashed Kenya 85-0 to kick things off on the second weekend, while the USA bagged a comfortable 49-7 victory over Asian champions Hong Kong.

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Hong Kong and Kenya both needed to win today in order to have any hope of qualifying for next year’s showpiece tournament in France, and now only third place will be on the line when they go head-to-head at The Sevens Stadium next week. Viewers in North America can watch the action live and for free on The Rugby Network.

It is all to play for both Portugal and the USA going into the final weekend of round robin games. The Eagles, who have never missed a Rugby World Cup, will be favourites to book a spot in the finals, but it’s by no means a foregone conclusion.

Portugal have been playing well and are hopeful of returning to the tournament 16 years after their last appearance in the finals, which were also in France.

There’s a hell of a lot riding on the USA qualifying for France next year given they will be hosting the tournament in 2031.

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Their attendance in France is seen by many as highly significant as the US attempt to garner support and an understanding of the sport among the American public eight years out from their own tournament, where they plan on filling 80,000-plus capacity American football stadiums.

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