RWC 2021 dream still alive for Colombia and Russia

Colombia and Russia take a step closer to Rugby World Cup 2021 after wins in their respective qualifiers, while England remain on top in the Women's Six Nations and Guatemala and El Salvador make history.

An historic weekend in the Sudamérica Rugby region brought wins for Colombia and Guatemala over Brazil and El Salvador respectively, with the former progressing through to the next stage of qualification for Rugby World Cup 2021.

Having won 28-7 when the sides met for the first time in a 15s international back in August, Colombia went into this rematch with Brazil as strong favourites to face Kenya for a place in the RWC 2021 repechage.

However, the final scoreline of 23-19 to Las Tucanes shows how little there is to choose now between the teams.

The match with Kenya was due to take place in Nairobi on 18 April, but has been postponed by the Kenya Rugby Union in support of the Kenyan Government's precautionary measures to protect public health against COVID-19.

Colombia comeback

It was Brazil who actually took the lead, outside-centre Mariana Nicolau crossing the line in just the fifth minute for a try which fly-half Raquel Kochhann improved.

From then on, though, Colombia took control of the scoreboard, Maria Arzuaga converting tries from winger Leidy Soto – one of the Unstoppables in World Rugby's 'Try and Stop Us' campaign – and hooker Camila Cardona as well as kicking  a penalty to help her side into a 15-7 lead.

Kochhann's yellow card in the 34th minute made Brazil's task even more difficult and they fell further behind when scrum-half Valentina Tapias darted over for Colombia's third try.

Brazil did manage a response, though, just before half-time, winger and sevens star Thalia Costa clawing back five points deep into stoppage time. 

The score remained at 20-12 to Colombia until the 56th minute when Arzuaga extended the home side's advantage with her second penalty of the match.

With players as dangerous as sevens specialist Isadora Cerullo in their ranks, Brazil continued to pose a threat and the 28-year-old's try in the 64th minute set up a grandstand finish.

In the end, it took ferocious try-line defence to preserve Colombia's four-point advantage and keep their dream of appearing in New Zealand alive. The 0.35 of a point awarded to Colombia for the win was not enough for them to improve on 29th place in the World Rugby Women's Rankings.

Russia claim first win

The winner of the Rugby Europe Women's Championship 2020 will join Italy, Ireland and Scotland in the region's play-off for RWC 2021 in September and it was Russia who struck the first blow, beating the Netherlands 27-21 in Amsterdam. Pre-tournament favourites Spain are their next opponents, on 5 April.

Russia move up to an all-time high of 14th in the World Rugby Women's Rankings as a result of the victory, while the Netherlands remain in 17th.

Poppy Cleal's hat-trick was the highlight as Women's Six Nations champions-elect England beat Wales 66-7 in front of a 10,974 crowd at the Twickenham Stoop, a record for a ticketed Red Roses match outside of a Rugby World Cup. With over 20 rating points between the sides before kick-off before home advantage was factored in, the result did not change either team's score or position in the rankings.

The games between Scotland and France and Ireland and Italy were postponed due to concerns about the coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, history was made as Guatemala and El Salvador competed for the first time at international level, a testament to the work being done to grow the game in the region. Guatemala ran out 50-5 winners at Estadio Erick Barrondo in Guatemala City. The match did not count towards the rankings as neither are full member unions of World Rugby. 

Last updated: Aug 26, 2020, 8:24:22 PM
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