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Portugal Rugby Qualify 2023 World Cup

Portugal have qualified for the Rugby World Cup for the first time with a thrilling 16-16 draw against the USA in Dubai.

Scrum-half Samuel Marques kicked a penalty after the final buzzer to send his side through on points difference.

The two sides had battled to a near standstill for 80 minutes, and as Portugal celebrated, the USA players sank to their knees. It means Portugal will take their place in Pool C at RWC 2023, alongside Wales, Australia, Fiji and Georgia.

There was nothing to separate the two teams, in tries, one apiece, penalty misses, yellow cards, nothing.

“It’s hard to explain, it’s one of the best feelings in the world,” Tomás Appleton, the Portugal captain, said. “For the rugby community this is amazing, we’ve been missing [from Rugby World Cup] for quite some time and we need a new generation to inspire the kids.”

USA had only failed to qualify for one previous Rugby World Cup, in South Africa in 1995, and they took the lead in Dubai as AJ MacGinty sent a third-minute penalty through the uprights.

They soon lost winger Nate Augsperger to the sin-bin, though, and Portugal responded to score the opening try of the match.

Winger Raffaele Storti took a pass from Nuno Sousa Guedes wide on the right and cut back inside to exploit the space created by Augsperger’s absence and sprint over the line. Marques added the conversion to give Os Lobos a four-point lead.

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