The Springboks could come up against a familiar face at the 2023 World Cup in France after Tonga won the Asia/Pacific playoff against Hong Kong to book their place in Pool B.
Tonga defeated Asia Champions Hong Kong 44-22 in the Asia/Pacific playoff played in Australia at the Sunshine Coast Stadium to punch their ticket to France.
For their ninth World Cup participation, Tonga is joining Romania, Ireland, Scotland and world champions South Africa in Pool B.
The ‘Ikale Tahi’ will begin their 2023 campaign against Ireland in Nantes on 16 September, before playing Scotland in Nice on 24 September, South Africa in Marseille on 1 October and finishing against Romania in Lille on 8 October.
Among Tonga’s ranks is former Wallabies fullback Israel Folau, who recently made his Test debut for the Pacific country after switching nations. Folau has faced the Springboks 10 times in his career, winning three and drawing two of those Tests.
Tonga’s bid to qualify for the 2023 World Cup started just over a year ago when they were beaten by Samoa in both legs of their Oceania 1 playoff (42-13 and 37-15), to lose 79-28 on aggregate.
The Pacific Islanders then bounced back with a 54-10 win over Cook Islands earning them the right to compete in the Asia/Pacific 1 playoff against Hong Kong on Australia’s Sunshine Coast.
Hong Kong’s hopes of qualification are not over yet. As the Asia/Pacific runners-up, they will take part in the final qualification tournament in November, a four-team round-robin competition with Portugal (Europe 3), Kenya (Africa 2) and USA (Americas 3).
Dates, format and location of the final qualification tournament will be announced on Monday 25 July.
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