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Hong Kong easily defeated the Cook Islands 51-0 to win one of the four competitive placements in the Rugby World Cup Japan 2019 Repechage event. The Dragons won the first match against the Kukis, and had no trouble in the second game against the small nation (17,500 population) from the South Pacific.
The second repechage play-in contest occurs this Saturday, July 14, when Germany host Samoa at home in Heidelberg. Samoa won the first leg 66-15, and should triumph in the second match.
Of note is that the game will be played inside the Fritz Grunebaum Sportspark, a 5,000-capacity stadium named for a German-American rugby player, originally from Heidelberg. Grunebaum emigrated to the USA in 1933, and later was instrumental on developing the game in Boston. He, along with Ed Riseborough and Bob Lemire, organized the United States Rugby Foundation in 1963, twelve-years before the formation of the USA Rugby Organization.
Samoa should join Hong Kong, Canada, and a team from Africa (Kenya, Uganda, or Zimbabwe) in the four-team Repechage play off for the last spot in the RWC 2019. Namibia is projected to win the Africa 1 spot and return again to another World Cup. They meet Uganda for this Africa 1 pass into the RWC.
Last week was the final tune up for European sevens sides heading to play July 20,21, and 22 in the World Rugby Sevens World Cup at the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park. The Rugby Europe Grand Prix Sevens – a continuing tournament during the year – saw England beat an undefeated Ireland (16 wins in a row) 29-19 to win the title in the Exeter England event held in Sandy Park. Of interest is that these two teams will meet early in the San Francisco tournament, with the USA probably playing the winner.