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Preview: RWC 2021 Europe Qualifier – Matchday 2

Amaia Erbina and Beibhinn Parsons

All eyes will be on Parma once again on Sunday for the second round of action from the European Qualification Tournament for the 2021 Rugby World Cup.

Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Spain all remain in the hunt for a direct ticket to New Zealand for next year’s competition but the outlook will be much clearer after this weekend.

The opening round of fixtures provided one of Spanish rugby’s greatest days as they scored a dramatic late try to win 8-7 against a strong Ireland side.

In the earlier fixture, Scotland were beaten by Italy, who had Maria Magatti to thank after she scored two of the hosts’ six tries in a 38-13 bonus-point win.

The next round of fixtures in Parma gets underway with Italy taking on Ireland before Scotland get a chance to salvage their Rugby World Cup dreams against giant-killers Spain.

ITALY V IRELAND

Italy will have momentum on their side after their win over Scotland as they look to move one step closer to RWC qualification with victory over Adam Griggs’ Ireland.

A victory against host nation Italy on Sunday would get Ireland back into the reckoning and Ireland captain Ciara Griffin certainly is not giving up on a ticket to the global showpiece.

“It wasn’t the result we wanted, but if you flip it, we’ve still got a losing bonus (point),” she said. “That’s something out of it. We didn’t perform the way we wanted to perform.

Parsons

“That’s on us, it’s fixable. That’s the big thing for us to do that now. But, you can’t put your head down now… there’s two more games left, two more that’s there to be won.”

In contrast, Andrea Di Giandomenico’s Italy enjoyed a dream start to their quest to qualify for the 2021 Rugby World Cup with an impressive display against Scotland.

Spain stun Ireland in RWC Qualifier

That triumph over their Women’s Six Nations rivals has set them up perfectly to take on Ireland, who got the better of the Azzurre (21-7) last time they met in the 2020 Championship.

Ireland will realistically need a bonus-point win while making sure the hosts don’t come away with any match points to keep their qualification hopes for the 2021 Rugby World Cup alive.

SPAIN V SCOTLAND

Spain secured one of the greatest results in their history with a stunning victory over Ireland in the previous round to set up a potential fairytale journey to the World Cup.

“This is a historic day not just for the Spanish women’s rugby. It is historic for the whole Spanish rugby community,” Spain coach José Antonio Barrio said after his side’s win.

Italy overcome Scotland in opening RWC Europe Qualifier

Spain began the second match of the day in Parma in the ascendancy and after going behind they showed great heart to score late on to prevail 8-7 at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.

It was Spain’s first win in the fixture since 2005 and it puts them just behind Italy as favourites to progress to the next year’s competition in New Zealand.

Michela Sillari

Patricia Garcia was immense for the Spaniards while 19-year-old try-scorer Lea Ducher was the hero off the bench and both will be hoping to play a key role again on Sunday.

In contrast, Scotland desperately need a win after a difficult start against Italy last weekend.

Bryan Easson’s squad is little changed from the one that contested the 2021 Women’s Six Nations in April, and captain Rachel Malcolm will be essential if they are going to make it to the World Cup later this year.

Looking ahead to the game, full-back Chloe Rollie said: “They can be a bit tight in defence and there are times that we’ll be able to pull the trigger and release our backs and get it wide.

“We’ll focus on going through our motions first and then look to do that.”

WHERE TO WATCH

All six matches in the Rugby World Cup 2021 European Qualification Tournament will be live streamed across the Rugby World Cup website, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels.

Rugby World Cup 2021 Europe Qualifier Schedule:

All games to be played at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi, Parma

Sunday, 19th September:

Italy v Ireland (kick-off 2pm BST / 3pm local time)
Spain v Scotland (kick-off 5pm BST / 6pm local time)

Saturday, 25th September:

Italy v Spain (kick-off 2pm BST / 3pm local time)
Ireland v Scotland (kick-off 5pm BST / 6pm local time)