Morning Chronicle - Chile stuns USA 31-29 to qualify for 2023 Rugby World Cup

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Chile stuns USA 31-29 to qualify for 2023 Rugby World Cup
Chile stuns USA 31-29 to qualify for 2023 Rugby World Cup / Photo: JAVIER TORRES - AFP/File

Chile stuns USA 31-29 to qualify for 2023 Rugby World Cup

Chile advanced to the Rugby World Cup for the first time on Saturday with a stunning 31-29 victory over the host United States to win a two-leg aggregate qualifier.

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Santiago Videla's penalty in the 75th minute put Los Condores ahead for the first time and produced the final margin at Glendale, Colorado.

That was enough to give Chile a shocking 52-51 overall aggregate victory despite the Americans' 22-21 triumph last weekend in Santiago and send the South American squad into next year's global rugby showdown in France.

"It really means so much... the sacrifices that this team has done. There were times when it seemed like it was uphill," Chile captain Martín Sigren said.

"I want to thank all the family who came here. They were the ones who kept us pushing."

Chile secured a spot in Pool D at the 2023 World Cup alongside England, Argentina, Japan and Samoa.

Despite the defeat, the Eagles can still make it to France in 2023 through a final qualification tournament in November against Portugal, Kenya and the Asia/Pacific playoff loser.

"It's heart-breaking," US captain AJ MacGinty said. "We worked hard for our scores, especially in first half.

"But credit to Chile. We really had our foot on their throat in the first half. I saw them under their posts, and they had a lost look in their eyes, but they battled back and fair play to them."

The United States, confirmed in May as the host nation for the 2031 Rugby World Cup, has missed the event only once, failing to qualify for the 1995 edition in South Africa.

It was a shocking reversal of fortune for a Chilean side humbled for years by the Eagles in the Tournament of the Americas.

The United States had beaten Chile in that round-robin event by scores of 71-8 in 2019, 45-13 in 2018, 57-9 in 2017 and 64-0 in 2016.

The Eagles had seized a 20-point aggregate edge before Chile rallied.

The US men took a 7-0 lead in the 11th minute when Martin Iosefo chipped the ball forward and Ruben de Haas tapped it back to Iosefo for the try with MacGinty converting.

Iosefo dove into the corner over the try line in the 24th minute with MacGinty making it 14-0 and MacGinty added another try in the 31st minute making it 19-0.

- Condores soar to win -

But Eagles lock Nick Civetta was sent to the sin bin in the 32nd minute and Chile capitalized on tries by Marcelo Torrealba in the 35th minute and Matias Garafulic in the 39th with conversions by Videla to pull within 19-14 at half-time.

Joe Taufete'e peeled off a maul to score a try in the 48th minute and MacGinty added a conversion to lift the Eagles ahead 26-14.

Los Condores answered in the 51st minute on Videla's try and conversion, climbing within 26-21.

MacGinty added a penalty in the 58th but Chile answered with a try from replacement prop Matias Dittus in the 65th minute and Videla's conversion lifted the visitors within 29-28.

When Videla kicked a penalty in the 75th minute, it was enough to send Los Condores flying to France and the Eagles plunging to the ground.