Germany beats Portugal to line up Samoa in RWC qualifying

June 16, 2018 GMT

HEIDELBERG, Germany (AP) — Germany beat Portugal 16-13 on Saturday to advance in qualifying for the 2019 Rugby World Cup to a two-leg playoff with Samoa.

The Germans will play Samoa in Apia on June 30 and stage the return leg on July 14. The winner on aggregate will qualify directly into Pool A in Japan next year. The runner-up will go to the repechage tournament in November.

Germany wasn’t anywhere near the World Cup after dismally losing all five matches this year in the Rugby Europe Championship, and conceding a record 359 points in total. But then Romania, Spain, and Belgium had points docked for fielding ineligible players and Germany moved into the European playoff spot.

The unexpected gift moved Swiss businessman Hans-Peter Wild to suspend his two-year dispute with the German Rugby Federation, and make his players and coaches from the professional Heidelberger RK team available again for the national team. The squad included 14 from Heidelberger, who recently retained the German championship.

Portugal qualified for its only Rugby World Cup in 2007, and still included lock Goncalo Uva, who played his 101st test in Heidelberg.