SPAIN will take its place on Rugby Union’s biggest stage after qualifying for next year’s World Cup.

Los Leones completed a remarkable turnaround when they defeated Portugal in Madrid on Sunday.

The 33-28 victory at Estadio Nacional Universidad meant that Spain will finish at least second in the combined Rugby Europe Championship 2021 and 2022 standings no matter the result of their final match against Georgia next Sunday.

World Rugby Photo Spain
Spain have qualified for RWC 2023. Photo courtesy of World Rugby

It caps a stunning change of fortunes for the Spanish national side who had looked on the way out when they lost their first three fixtures at the start of last season’s Rugby Europe Championship.

Santiago Santos’ side have since won six Championship matches in a row to set up both a title decider against Georgia in Tbilisi next weekend and take their place as the Europe 2 qualifier at RWC 2023 in France.

It will be the team’s second RWC appearance, 24 years after their first.

They will line up in Pool B alongside Webb Ellis Cup holders South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and the Asia/Pacific 1 qualifier.

While Portugal need the Netherlands to do them a favour at home to Romania on March 19 to claim third place and make it to the Final Qualification Tournament, Spain’s place at France 2023 is now confirmed.

“It’s been a long journey and a very tough qualification process,” said Spain head coach Santiago Santos.

“We lost our first three games and after that, we have won six in a row.

“The performance of the team was amazing and we are very excited to be going to the Rugby World Cup.”

Los Leones’ RWC 2023 will get underway on Saturday, September 9, 2023 when they take on Ireland at Stade de Bordeaux.

Eight days later, Santiago Santos’s side will face the Springboks at the same venue, before heading to Lille where they play Scotland on September 30 and the Asia / Pacific 1 qualifier on 8 October 8.

Spain’s last tournament appearance came at RWC 1999, where they were also drawn alongside South Africa and Scotland, as well as Uruguay, in Pool A.

Los Leones lost each of their three matches, all of which were played in Scotland, as they exited the tournament at the pool stage.

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