Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 October 2019

Rugby World Cup 2019 permutations: How can Scotland qualify for the quarter-finals?

It's all happening in Pool A and here is how teams can secure qualification to the knockout stage

Pool A is the tightest to call at the Rugby World Cup, with the two qualifiers for the knockout stage potentially to be decided by bonus points – or even head-to-head results.

Kotaro Matsushima’s final play try against Samoa on Saturday gave Japan a four-try bonus point win. That could prove decisive as they bid to finish above Scotland and Ireland.

Rugby World Cup tiebreaker rules

If teams finish level on match points, these are the first two tiebreaker criteria:

1. The winner of the match in which the two tied teams played each other shall be the higher ranked.

2. The team which has the best difference between points for and points against in all its pool matches shall be the higher ranked.

What do Japan need to do to qualify?

If Japan win their final match, against Scotland, they will be guaranteed to finish top of the pool, and so play a quarter-final against the runner up in Pool B. That would likely be South Africa.

If they draw against Scotland, that would still be enough for them to top the group – and send Scotland out.

It would take them to 16 points. Ireland could go level with that points tally, if they pick up a four-try bonus point win over Samoa in their match on Saturday.

But Japan would finish the higher-ranked side, on account of their win against Ireland earlier in the group.

Japan could even lose against Scotland and top the group.

If they scored four tries, and finished within seven points of the Scots, that would be good enough for two points. Again, Ireland could not finish with a higher points tally.

Japan would miss out if Scotland won both their remaining matches with four-try bonus points, and Japan failed to secure a bonus point in losing to Scotland, while Ireland beat Samoa.

Scotland would also edge out Japan if the two teams finished level on 14 points, and Ireland beat Samoa.

That would mean Ireland have at least 15 points, and Scotland advance in second on account of winning against Japan.

What do Ireland need to do to qualify?

Ireland will be through if they get a bonus-point win against Samoa on Saturday – as Scotland would not be able to overhaul their total of 16 points.

TOPSHOT - Ireland's hooker Sean Cronin (L) is tackled by Russia's scrum-half Dmitry Perov during the Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup Pool A match between Ireland and Russia at the Kobe Misaki Stadium in Kobe on October 3, 2019. / AFP / Filippo MONTEFORTE
Ireland hooker Sean Cronin, left. AFP

If Japan then lost to Scotland and failed to secure two bonus points in defeat, Ireland would top the group.

They would therefore bypass a likely quarter final against New Zealand – and play South Africa instead.

Ireland would only miss out if they lost to Samoa by more than seven points, while failing to score four tries.

Scotland would then need to either win both their remaining matches – or have one bonus-point victory, plus either a draw or take two bonus points in defeat.

That would take the Scots to 12 points, and leave Ireland on 11.

There is one other way Ireland could lose out. If Ireland lost to Samoa, but ended within seven, they would reach 12 points.

If Scotland scored four tries in beating Russia, then four more in a draw with Japan, that would put them on 13 points.

What do Scotland need to do to qualify?

A bonus-point win against Russia – which Japan, Ireland and Samoa have all managed so far – would make the final pool game against Japan as good as a knock-out fixture. Although with caveats.

Scotland would start the game with 10 points, and Japan with 14.

If Scotland won with a four-try bonus point, they would reach 15 points. Japan could still trump that if they scored four tries and lost by seven points or fewer.

If Scotland won with a four-try bonus point, and Japan scored three tries or fewer, but still finished within seven of their opposition, the teams would finish level on 15 points.

In that case, Scotland would go through as winners of their match.

If Scotland beat Russia, but without scoring four tries, they would still have a chance to make it through – although slim.

They would need to score four tries against Japan, and then ensure the host nations finished more than seven points behind and did not score four tries of their own.

That would leave the sides level on 14 points, and Scotland would progress as winners of their head-to-head fixture.

Updated: October 7, 2019 03:33 PM

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