The famous Webb Ellis Cup has made the trip to Ontario and will be on display for this week’s first leg of the crucial Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying matches between Canada and USA.

Rugby fans in Canada will have a rare opportunity to get up close to the iconic trophy as it goes on display before and during the match at Tim Horton’s Field in Hamilton as well as making a number of public appearances in schools and public places during its brief but packed visit. On Wednesday morning, the cup was on display as Conor Braid and Giuseppe du Toit from the current Canada squad and legends Gareth Rees and Al Charron officially opened trading at the Toronto Stock Exchange, TSX.

With the home team never having lost to their North American neighbours in the corresponding fixture for previous Rugby World Cups, they will be determined not to start now. But USA are currently six places ahead of Canada on the World Rugby Rankings table and, when the action shifts to San Diego on 1 July for the second leg, they will be confident of making history by becoming the Americas 1 qualifier for the first time.

World Rugby Chairman Bill Beaumont said: “The Webb Ellis Cup is an instantly recognisable symbol of our sport and it is important for it to be accessible to rugby fans everywhere. Hamilton, Ontario, may not be seen as a global hotbed of the game but Canadians who follow the sport do so with just as much passion as anywhere else.

“With a very special Rugby World Cup 2015 fresh in our memories, we are excited to be following the North American qualification process for Japan 2019. What is special about this process is that there is a genuine and clear pathway for member unions to make it to the tournament and we know that unforgettable moments will be shared by the players and teams who are beginning their Rugby World Cup journey. Ambitious unions can use qualification for rugby’s showpiece tournament as something to aim for and, in the years to come, I believe we can expect to see new teams make their Rugby World Cup debuts.

“The winner of this two-leg tie will be the first qualifier for Japan while the other team will head for a play-off against the South American champion. I can’t say if they too will make it all the way to Japan but the point is that they have the chance to do so. In many ways, Rugby World Cup is not just a tournament of 20 teams but in fact it is designed to include all 103 full member unions. I would like to thank RAN for the work they do in North America and the Caribbean and Rugby Canada for hosting this match and for being part of this great tournament.”

USA will start the tie as favourites having recently had the better of encounters between these two teams. But the North American rivalry is fierce and you would be foolish to discount Canada with its proud history and available talent. Tickets for the game are on sale and disappearing fast as Canadian sports fans rush to see what their national team can achieve on the global stage.

Rugby Canada CEO Allen Vansen said: “The Webb Ellis Cup is one of the most prestigious trophies in world of sport and we’re delighted to have the cup in Toronto and Hamilton as part of our Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying series against the USA.

“We’re bringing the cup to local schools, corporate partners and Canadian media to help raise the awareness of one of Canada’s fastest growing sports. We know the Ontario rugby community is thrilled that rugby’s pinnacle trophy will be traveling through their province in the lead up to the 24 June qualifying match.”

With 12 teams having secured their place at Japan 2019 courtesy of finishing in the top three of their respective pools, the remaining eight places will be determined by a process of regional and cross-regional qualifiers and, for the first time, a stand-alone round-robin repechage tournament to determine the final qualifier in 2018. All qualified teams will be known by November 2018. Meanwhile, the pool allocation draw for RWC 2019 will take place in May 2017 in Japan.

Note on the USA v Canada play-off:

For the purposes of this two-leg play-off, if USA and Canada are tied on aggregate score at full-time at the end of the second leg, then the winner shall be determined through the following sequential criteria:

  1. Extra-time. Following an interval of five minutes, extra-time of 10 minutes each way (with a half-time interval of five minutes) shall be played in full. Teams remain on the field of play, a coin toss determines who kicks off and the direction of play.
  2. Sudden death extra-time. If the scores are tied at the conclusion of extra-time and following an interval of five minutes, a further maximum period of 10 minutes extra-time shall be played. Teams change ends at the conclusion of extra-time, with the team who kicked off at the start of extra-time doing so again. During this period, the first team to score (any method) shall be declared the winner.
  3. Kicking competition. If, after this period of sudden-death extra-time, no winner can be declared, a kicking competition will be organised between the teams, with the option of who kicks first decided by a coin toss. The winner of that competition shall be declared the winner.