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Pool B set for enthralling finale with multiple permutations

By Josh Raisey
Johnny Sexton/ PA

A heavily rotated South Africa side will know that they have a job to do on Sunday in Marseille against Tonga after the events of last weekend at the Stade de France.


Tonga will be no pushovers by any stretch, but after both Ireland and Scotland beat the Pacific Islanders with a bonus point, it has now become a matter of urgency for Jacques Nienaber’s side to do the same given the various permutations in Pool B in the final weekend- a weekend which the Springboks can only watch and hope as Ireland and Scotland face each other.

Journalist Joe Naughton recently outlined the multiple permutations in the pool going into the final two weekends. Should the Springboks beat Tonga with a bonus point and Scotland do the same against Romania this weekend (which Ireland have off), there are five possibilities heading into the match between Scotland and Ireland at the Stade de France in the final round of action (which South Africa have off).

The first possibility is where Scotland beat Ireland with neither side getting a bonus point. In that situation, South Africa would top the pool with 15 points, and Scotland and Ireland would both be level on 14 points, whereby Scotland would progress due to their head-to-head record with Ireland.


The second possibility is where Scotland fail to earn a bonus point in beating Ireland, and also fail to prevent Ireland from picking up a bonus point in their loss. In that situation, Ireland and South Africa would both finish on 15 points and Ireland would progress at the top of the group due to their head-to-head with the Boks.

The third permutation is where Scotland score four tries in a win over Ireland and prevent them from picking up a bonus point of any kind. In that case, Scotland would be level with South Africa on 15 points, and will progress in second place due to their head-to-head.

The most interesting scenario of all would be if Scotland beat Ireland with a bonus point, but Ireland manage to pick up one bonus point in their loss. That would leave all three teams tied in Pool B on 15 points, and as they would all have a win over one another, it would go down to points difference.


Should Ireland win, draw, or manage to pick up two bonus points in a loss, they would go through as pool winners.

In the event where South Africa fail to score four tries against Tonga this weekend, Scotland and Ireland could both progress should Scotland win with a bonus point next weekend.

This requires a lot of mental gymnastics but it also means that anything can happen and everything is to play for going into the final few matches of the pool stages.



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