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The Ireland Scotland scoreline that'd knock South Africa out of World Cup

By Ian Cameron
Faf de Klerk of South Africa looks dejected after defeat to Ireland during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between South Africa and Ireland at Stade de France on September 23, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The permutations of Pool B of the Rugby World Cup have been a major discussion point, with all three of Ireland, South Africa and Scotland still in the race to make the quarter-finals with the final weekend of pool matches approaching.

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South Africa beat Tonga 49-18 last night in Marseille, their final game of the pool stages, but contrary to what some fans think, the Springboks’ fate still lies in the hands of Scotland and Ireland, who both obviously have a game in hand.

While the Boks currently occupy top spot in Pool B with 15 points, Ireland need just one point to draw even with the reigning champs, while Scotland need a bonus win to arrive on 15 points.

Video Spacer

WATCH as Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber explains why his team is not yet guaranteed a place in the World Cup quarterfinals

Video Spacer

WATCH as Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber explains why his team is not yet guaranteed a place in the World Cup quarterfinals

What Ireland need
Ireland needs to avoid defeat to Scotland to guarantee qualification as the pool winners. A draw would take them to 16, while a four-point win would take them to 18 and a try bonus point win would take them to 19. A losing bonus point would also almost certainly be enough to bag Ireland a quarter-final spot. However, a losing bonus while denying Scotland a 4-try bonus point would be enough. More on that in a minute.

What Scotland need
Scotland needs to beat Ireland and deny Ireland a bonus point, to knock Andy Farrell’s side out of the tournament outright, as if both are on 14, the Scots win on head to head regardless of points difference, with the Boks going through as group winners on 15. Scotland will be desperate to deny Ireland a losing bonus point.

All tied on fifteen
Things get interesting if all teams end up with fifteen points on the standings.

If all three teams are tied at the end of pool stages, the team with the best points difference goes through. Teams placed second and third then come down to their head-to-head, or in the case of a draw between both sides, it goes back to points difference.

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Going into the weekend Ireland are on +122, the Boks have +117 points, while the Scots have +97.

Rugby World Cup

Pool A
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
France
3
3
0
0
13
2
New Zealand
3
2
1
0
10
3
Italy
3
2
1
0
10
4
Uruguay
3
1
2
0
5
5
Namibia
4
0
4
0
0
Pool B
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
South Africa
4
3
1
0
15
2
Ireland
3
3
0
0
14
3
Scotland
3
2
1
0
10
4
Tonga
3
0
3
0
0
5
Romania
3
0
3
0
0
Pool C
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
Wales
3
3
0
0
14
2
Australia
4
2
2
0
11
3
Fiji
3
2
1
0
10
4
Georgia
3
0
2
1
3
5
Portugal
3
0
2
1
2
Pool D
P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
England
3
3
0
0
14
2
Argentina
3
2
1
0
9
3
Japan
3
2
1
0
9
4
Samoa
3
1
2
0
6
5
Chile
4
0
4
0
0

What the Springboks want
The ideal South African scenario is Scotland beating Ireland and denying Andy Farrell’s men a losing bonus point, as it would see the Boks go through as group winners. If Ireland lost to Scotland by seven points or less and the Scots don’t get a bonus point, the Springboks would go through as pool runners up, with Ireland going through as pool winners on head to heads. If Ireland avoids defeat, South Africa also goes through to the quarters as pool runners-up.

What the Springboks don’t want
The nightmare scoreline for South Africa goes like this: if Scotland beat Ireland by 21 points or more with a four-try bonus and Ireland get a four-try bonus point in defeat, then South Africa will be knocked out of the Rugby World Cup. Scotland would go through as pool winners, while due to their head-to-head loss with Ireland and a points difference lower than Scotland, the Boks would be eliminated.

According to the match-fixing conspiracy theories doing the rounds on the internet,  Ireland and Scotland could agree to this result, as it’s the one scenario that would see them both qualify. What’s in it for Ireland? They guarantee that they won’t have to face the Springboks again at the tournament.

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This makes very little sense, as it would see Ireland playing France, likely led by Dupont, in the quarter-finals.

What is clear is that Pool B – aka the Pool of Death – has lived up to its billing and fans of all three teams will be left to chew their nails going into the final weekend of matches.

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Comments

121 Comments
B
Bob Marler 251 days ago

Great. I think I got it, but just in case, tell me the whole thing again. I wasn't listening.

S
Sims 251 days ago

The idea that Ireland and Scotland under their current management teams of Farrells amd Townsend would try to engineer a result is totally ludicrous and is absolutely no way going to happen. Cut the bullshit and just enjoy the match. Winners go through, it'll be a cracker!!

C
Cooper 252 days ago

Because?

N
NJ 253 days ago

Yawn..... Cmon Scotland!!!! ONE TIME !!!

I
Ian 254 days ago

The lime light is not on the all blacks, seemingly out of contention. Can they use this to their advantage or are they genuinely on a bit of a low ebb.

B
Ben 254 days ago

Unintended consequences, Ireland will have to go out and try win, they can't afford to try and get an "engineered" score that will favour them in play-offs, if Scotland score four tries they may score seven. If Scotland within seven point bonus point loss the could score last minute try and win. Too much that can go wrong. Scotland know they have to score with bonus point and can't take foot off the gas if they in the lead to get favourable result for Ireland. Think its going to be a great game, tactics from both teams going to interesting to watch.

S
Shaylen 255 days ago

The real question is what do Ireland want? if they score 4 tries they could let the Scots get their bonus and knock South Africa out but then they will play France. If you finish top of the pool the Scots don't go through and you face NZ but SA stays in. I think Ireland will be motivated to finish top of the pool so they play NZ. SA will probably get knocked out by France anyway I dont think they fear SA or France to be honest so I dont see Ireland doing anything other than going out to win this game

J
Jaco 255 days ago

If Ireland gets a red card early in the game, all score line scenarios will be possible.
If not, SA beats France and England, Ireland beats NZ and Wales.
We will meet again.

J
JoNo 255 days ago

Also Nick Berry is the ref, think he may have a score to settle with Boks.........

D
David 255 days ago

To illustrate how absurd the system is, if both teams have scored 4 tries it would be better for Ireland to lose by 21 points or more than to lose by anywhere between 6 and 19 points. So what will Ireland do if they both have 4 tries and they are losing by 18 with a minute to go? It will obviously favour them to allow Scotland to score. The absurdity arises by having two different methods to sort the winner of three teams that are tied and the second and third finishers. World Rugby did not think of this scenario. All three teams should be sorted by points difference if there is a three way tie.

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