Portugal should consider themselves the luckiest team to be at the World Cup this year. The Iberian side originally finished fourth in Europe's qualifying tournament. The top two teams were guaranteed places at the World Cup and the third placed team was to enter a Final Qualification Tournament to be played in Dubai. However, Portugal's peninsula neighbours had made an admin error. Spain had fielded an ineligible player in two games off the bench against the weakest opponent for a grand total of 56 minutes. It was decided that the Spaniards should be deducted 10 points, sending them plummeting from second to fourth.
Portugal were now off to Dubai! They breezed through their first two games against Hong Kong and Kenya but would come up against the USA in the final game. The US hadn't missed a World Cup since 1995 whilst Portugal only had experience of one tournament in 2007. Portugal entered this match with a superior points difference and therefore only needed a draw to propel themselves to the World Cup. In overtime Portugal were awarded a penalty. Their fly half took a drop goal from 40m out but it hit the left upright. So up stepped scrum half Samuel Marques to nail the penalty, levelling the scores 16-16 as well as sending Portugal to France.
The Portuguese play an expansive game. Keep an eye out for 23-year old winger Rodrigo Marta who has sheer pace and agility. Marta is the type of player who could be rewarded a lucrative contract at a top club off the back of impressing on the world stage. Portugal find themselves in a pool with Wales, Australia, Fiji and Georgia. The Wolves or Os Lobos, as Portugal are known, are at the bottom of the pecking order and the runts of the Pool C litter. Fellow European rivals, Georgia, will be seen as the main targets, although the Portuguese will be hoping to replicate the antics of Uruguay who shocked Fiji at the 2019 World Cup.