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Germany on the attack

This Saturday, November 11, begins the repechage tournament to decide the twentieth, and final fifteen to play in next September's 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.  The four sides in round robin play are Hong Kong, Canada, Kenya, and Germany. The matches are slotted in the Stade Pierre-Delort, Marseille, France (5,000 capacity). The winner will compete in Pool B with New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, and Namibia.

Historically, Canada have played in all eight of the past RWCs, achieving a quarterfinal finish in 1991, and Canadian rugby pride would suffer if they did not win this repechage event to qualify.  Not only did the Canadians lose to the USA in the North American region RWC 2019 qualifier (a 28-28 draw in Canada, followed by a 52-16 rout in San Diego), but also they lost the next level of two RWC qualifying games to Uruguay.

For the past two years in 2017 and 2018, rugby in Canada has been on a downturn with the team sporting a disappointing record of 4-15-1, the wins coming from victories against Brazil and Chile.

The other three competitors in the repechage have never played in a RWC. Two, Hong Kong and Kenya, have produced known rugby stories via Sevens play.

The odd nation out is Germany, which advanced to the venue in Marseille via disqualification of two other European sides. No other world nation - with such an outstanding athletic history as Germany - has produced such a decidedly inferior rugby past and present. The nation lists a mere120 rugby clubs and about 3,000 players.

Rugby in Germany has been supported solely by the generosity of Hans-Peter Wild, scion of the well known Capri Sun juice empire. Over time, he has donated $28 million to operate an academy in Heidelberg, and fund the national side's expenses.  And currently, with the Union's bank account bare, he has given $400,000 recently to hire a coach and pay for the upcoming weeks' costs in France.

One team will book a trip to Japan in 2019.