The regional qualification process for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan was announced late Thursday by World Rugby.
Designed to “deliver the top 20 teams in the world to rugby’s showcase tournament,” the new format makes it unlikely there will be two Asian nations at the tournament, the first outside a Tier one nation.
With Japan having qualified as both host and as a top 12 finisher at RWC 2015, there had been hopes that Asia would be granted an automatic spot at the tournament.
With 12 teams having secured their place at Japan 2019 as a result of finishing in the top three of their respective pools at RWC 2015, the remaining eight places will be determined by a series of regional and cross-regional qualifiers and a stand-alone round-robin repechage tournament to determine the final qualifier.
The qualifying process will begin in 2016 and all teams will be determined by November 2018.
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