A spot at the 2015 Rugby World Cup awaits the victors of USA vs. Canada over two legs.
One of the North American rivals can secure a safe passage to the tournament in England and bragging rights for the continent.
Defeat does not lead to total elimination. The loser faces another play-off, against Uruguay, to compete for another spot in England.
Even defeat in that game does not the mean the end of their World Cup dreams as they are offered one final chance in the repechage.
Neither side will be highly fancied in the tournament proper. Both failed to secure the two wins from the 2011 World Cup that would have guaranteed them automatic qualification this time around—although Canada can count themselves unfortunate after claiming a win and a draw.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at the key information for the first leg as the United States welcome Canada.
Where: Blackbaud Stadium, Charleston
When: Saturday August 17, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. ET/ 11:30 p.m. BST
Watch: Universal Sports
Live Stream: Universal Sports Online
United States vs. Canada is a huge fixture in any sport but for North American rugby fans, with neither side in the top tier of the international game, this is the biggest match on the calendar.
Canada start as slight favourites meaning the US Eagles must surely win their home match to have any chance of progressing. The Canadians might only be ranked 15 in the world, three places above the United States, but they have really progressed in 2013 and won the most recent meeting with their American rivals.
They finished second in the Pacific Cup—a tournament boasting Fiji, Tonga, Japan and the Eagles—even beating eventual winners Fiji 20-18 in their debut year, and if it wasn’t for a tight defeat to Japan they would have won the whole thing.
Meanwhile, the United States have endured a tricky 2013. They were the Pacific Cup whipping boys after losing all four of their matches including a painful 16-9 defeat to Canada.
Their fortunes rest on young fly-half Toby L’Estrange who was raised in Australia. He will need to use all his Southern Hemisphere know-how to help create an unlikely win, although his coach is confident he can make the difference.
"Toby is a very good play maker and has excellent skills and devotion to our squad and to the game," Mike Tolkin said, as reported by the Guardian. "He would be one of the players who learned a lot from his experience this summer."
At the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand, Canada secured a shock victory over Tonga and the United States won a tight match with Russia.
Who will win the first leg?
For all their impressive work tackling teams of similar ability there is still a huge gap between them and the international big hitters from the Southern Hemisphere and Europe. Canada were smashed 79-15 by the hosts two years ago while Australia crushed the United States 67-5.
Not finishing bottom in their World Cup pool still represents an achievement for sides from a continent with less rugby tradition.
The signs are they are improving. Should both qualify, they might have a shot of finishing third in their respective pools but a knock-out spot is unlikely.
The winner will be the first team to seal their passage to the 2015 World Cup through qualification, joining rugby’s big names just over two years before the real action gets underway in England.
Prediction: United States 12, Canada 15