Salem Radio Network News Sunday, May 22, 2022

Sports

Rugby-Samoa, Hong Kong women out of World Cup qualification due to COVID-19

(Reuters) – Hong Kong and Samoa have pulled out of qualification tournaments for next year’s women’s World Cup in New Zealand due to “insurmountable logistical challenges” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, World Rugby said on Friday.

Hong Kong were due to participate in the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship which would act as a feeder event for the final qualification tournament in Dubai, but they will no longer be travelling due to Hong Kong’s lockdown restrictions.

Samoa, who were heading directly to the final qualifiers, were facing challenges on re-entry including a six-month return moratorium for anyone who tests positive outside the country, which contributed to their decision to withdraw.

“Our thoughts go out to the players and management who have worked tirelessly in preparation for this tournament and we would like to reassure them that every avenue was explored in attempt to find a solution to this unique and challenging situation,” World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said.

“We remain committed to delivering a safe Final Qualification Tournament for the remaining participating unions and will be working closely with Hong Kong and Samoa to ensure the best possible 2022 campaign for their women’s 15s teams.”

With the Asia Rugby Women’s Championship no longer taking place, World Rugby has revised the format for the final qualification tournament.

Kazakhstan and Colombia will now play in a semi-final on Feb. 19, with the winner facing Scotland on Feb. 25 for a place at next year’s World Cup in New Zealand, which will be held from Oct. 8 to Nov. 12.

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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