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Tonga women get second World Cup chance after measles lockdown

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Tonga’s women’s rugby team have been given another opportunity to qualify for the 2021 World Cup after the entire side was withdrawn from the Oceania Rugby Women’s Championships in Fiji and quarantined this week following a measles outbreak.

The outbreak has killed at least six people in Samoa and spread across the Pacific islands, with Tonga’s Health Ministry confirming last week there were more than 250 confirmed cases of the disease.

The decision to quarantine the Tonga team was made by Fijian health officials and the World Health Organisation.

The Nov. 18-30 Oceania championship doubled as a qualifying tournament for the World Cup in New Zealand, with the winners advancing directly to the global showpiece. The second-placed team would enter a repechage tournament.

World Rugby, however, said Tonga would now play the third-placed team from the Oceania tournament with the winners of the game advancing to a match against the side finishing second.

The winners of that game would advance to the repechage tournament.

The costs of the additional matches will be covered by World Rugby.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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