March 11, 2014 (ISN) – The winner-take-all Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifier between Georgia and Romania in Tblisi this Saturday will be streamed live and free on www.rugbyworldcup.com.
While both teams have already secured places for the Game’s pinnacle tournament, which takes place in England next year, this vital match will determine which pools these top two European qualifiers will play in.
And with millions of Georgian and Romanian sports fans glued to the free-to-air broadcast, supporters all over the world will be able to tune in via the live stream, which can be accessed in every corner of the globe.
After nine rounds of the FIRA-AER European Nations Cup Division 1A 2012-14, the Oaks and the Lelos are deadlocked on eight wins and one draw each. Romania has the slenderest of leads courtesy of a bonus point gained by comprehensively beating Belgium last weekend.
Victory on Saturday (or a draw with no bonus points) will assure Romania a place in Pool C as Europe 1 alongside defending champions New Zealand, Argentina, Tonga and the African qualifier. The loser will qualify as Europe 2 and face France, Ireland, Italy and Canada in Pool D.
So not only fans of Georgia and Romania will be interested in watching the live stream on www.rugbyworldcup.com but also supporters of those teams in Pools C and D who will then know the identity of the European qualifiers their teams will face next year.
Russia, who are now guaranteed third place in the ENC Division 1A, must now pin their hopes on qualification via the cross-continental play-off process, which was also their route to Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand.
Rugby World Cup Limited Chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “In Europe, we are really down to the business end of the qualification process. Georgia and Romania have proved over the past two years or so that they are still the best in the ENC and they have deservedly booked their spots.”
“But who will get the opportunity to take on the All Blacks in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff? We will only know this on Saturday and it would be a brave person to predict the outcome. It is always close between these two teams and the corresponding fixture in Bucharest last year saw the teams locked on 9-9 so there is little or nothing between them.”
“Making sure the match is streamed live and free around the world is important for the continued development of world Rugby. We must take every opportunity to promote the sport and inform people that there is a good standard of Rugby going on in many locations around the globe.”
IRB Council Member for Europe, FIRA-AER President and International Olympic Committee Member Octavian Morariu said: “It looks set to be a really tough, close match between these two old rivals on Saturday. The Game is moving forward all over Europe with standards improving all the time. The ENC Division 1A has been really compelling but Georgia and Romania have emerged as the top two. After more than two years of competition, for the title to come down to the final match shows how exciting and close the tournament has been.”
“It is great that this match is being streamed live globally so that everyone can catch a view on the sort of high-intensity Rugby that these teams will bring to England next year.”
With the global Rugby community counting down to RWC 2015, both Georgia and Romania will count on some special support in the host nation. The Unity Project, a core element of the IMPACT Beyond 2015 legacy programme, sees 17 European Unions partnered with RFU constituent bodies to deliver development plans to support the growth of the Game.
In what is designed to be a fun and memorable way of including all 20 teams at RWC 2015 while also engaging every part of England, Georgia has been twinned with Kent and Essex, while Romania is paired with Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.
Full reaction will appear on www.rugbyworldcup.com and via @rugbyworldcup