With 19 nations already confirmed, Russia and Uruguay could be just 160 minutes away from securing the final place at World Cup 2015 in England.
The first ‘half’ of what is expected to be a closely fought two-leg encounter will take place in the southern Siberian town of Krasnoyarsk this Saturday as the Bears host an emerging South American team keen to emulate the teams of 1999 and 2003 and represent their country at a RWC.
The Webb Ellis Cup will be in Krasnoyarsk for the match, which kicks off at 16:00 local (BST+7), the first time the iconic trophy has been to this city.
The second fixture will take place two weeks later in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, also in the presence of the biggest prize in rugby.
And it is no surprise that Uruguay captain Nicholas Klappenbach is hoping to enjoy the ‘once in a lifetime experience’ of competing at a RWC. Los Teros have competed at two previous World Cups, 1999 and 2003, and a spot in Pool A awaits if they can get past this Repechage Final.
“I think we have a very positive attitude going into this match,” said Klappenbach.
“This mentality comes about as a result of the chance we had to play against Russia and the success we had against them.
“This of course gives us the boost we need, and we have started to believe that we really have a chance to qualify, an even better chance than in previous years.
“But we also feel nervous because these are two matches in which we have to perform at our very best to win and overcome tough opposition in order to make it to the World Cup.”
Uruguay, like their South American counterparts Argentina, are renowned for having a strong scrum. However Klappenbach says people will see a more rounded team in England if they come through what has historically been a tough challenge.
“We are aiming to improve in all areas of the game, not just with set pieces like the scrum, which traditionally characterises the style of rugby played in our region,” he said.
“Today we are trying to play a more precise type of rugby, an expansive type of rugby which utilises our wingers. We want to be more modern in our approach and play total rugby.”
Only one of the five previous meetings, a 38-19 win for Russia in 2010, has been settled by more than a score. Overall, Russia have won three matches to Uruguay’s two.
Should Russia win they will leapfrog Uruguay into 19th place in the IRB World Rankings as well as heading to Montevideo with a significant advantage in the race for the final spot.
“It is a once in a lifetime experience being able to play against some of the best players in the world, seeing them, bumping into them – it must be really amazing,” added Klappenbach.
Russia: 15 Vasily Artemyev, 14 Mikhail Babaev, 13 Dmitry Gerasimov, 12 Alex Makovetskii, 11 Vladimir Ostroushko, 10 Yury Kushnarev, 9 Alexander Yanyushkin, 8 Victor Gresev, 7 Andrey Garbuzov, 6 Andrew Temnov, 5 Kirill Kulemin, 4 Alexander Voitov (c), 3 Eugene Pronenko, 2 Valery Tsnobiladze, 1 Gregory Tsnobiladze
Replacements: 16 Vladislav Korshunov, 17 Andrew igrets, 18 Andrei Ostrikov, 19 Paul Butenko, 20 Ramil Gysin, 21 Rushan Yagudin, 22 Denis Simplikevich
Date: Saturday, September 27
Kickoff: 16:00 local (09:00 BST, 08:00 GMT)
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Olly Hodges (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
With thanks to the IRB