The curtain will come down on the inaugural WXV 2 and WXV 3 tournaments as the third and final rounds are played in Cape Town and Dubai on Friday and Saturday.
With champions to be crowned and promotion and relegation to be decided there is a lot at stake as the 12 teams take to the field for the final time in 2023.
Here are the permutations facing the nations still in contention for the title or at risk of relegation in the second and third levels this weekend.
Although there is no promotion to WXV 1 this year, the race to finish top of the second level and secure the inaugural WXV 2 title could not be closer.
Italy and Scotland both head into the final round with a perfect 10 points and in the box-seat to end round three on top of the standings. However, the teams they are playing this Friday and Saturday, Japan and USA, could yet usurp them.
Scotland kick-off round three against the Sakura 15s on Friday (kick-off 14:00 local time, GMT+2) and they know they need to better Italy’s result on Saturday to finish top of the pile.
A bonus-point victory would be enough to claim the title should the Azzurre fail to beat USA with one the following day. If the two teams both claim four- or five-point victories, then Scotland’s margin of victory would need to be eight points greater than Italy’s to end the tournament top of the standings.
Should Japan beat Scotland with a bonus point – while denying their opponents one – on Friday, then they would need the Azzurre to gain nothing in defeat to USA a day later while also making up the 22-point differential between the teams.
The Women’s Eagles face a similar equation, although they start the round with a points difference 31 points worse than Italy’s.
However, should Scotland lose to Japan without a bonus point on Friday then Italy would need only one point from their match against USA to be crowned champions.
The equation at the other end of the standings is rather simpler, with either Oceania or Africa guaranteed to lose a place in WXV 2, depending on the result of Samoa’s match against hosts South Africa on Friday (kick-off 16:30 local time).
Whoever wins the match will confirm their region’s place in the second level for 2024, while it is possible for Samoa to climb as high as third in the standings with a bonus-point victory at Athlone Sports Stadium if Japan and USA both lose without securing a bonus point.
Should the match end in a draw then the teams will finish the tournament with an identical points difference. In that scenario, the hosts would need to secure a try bonus-point while denying Manusina one to have a chance of finishing above their opponents in the standings.
Whatever happens in the final match of WXV 3, Europe are guaranteed to have three teams playing in the second level next year as Ireland and Spain cannot both be caught by the teams beneath them.
Regional qualifiers in 2024 will decide the identity of those three teams but there is plenty to play for as Las Leonas take on Ireland at The Sevens Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 17:00 local time, GMT+4).
Scott Bemand’s Ireland head into the final round on top of the standings, a point ahead of Spain and with their points difference a healthy 131 points better than their opponents.
Ireland, therefore, only need to avoid defeat in Dubai to claim the first-ever WXV 3 title. However, should Spain record their seventh win in the fixture then Las Leonas will leapfrog them and become champions.
The bottom of the WXV 3 standings has near identical permutations to the level above heading into the final round.
Kenya sit fifth with one point from two matches, ahead of Colombia in sixth with zero points. It means that the team that loses their encounter on Friday (kick-off 19:30 local time) will face a play-off to retain their region’s place in WXV 3 in 2024.
In the event of a draw, Kenya would secure Africa’s place in the third level for next year – even if only Colombia secure a try bonus-point given their superior points difference.