The Ireland Scotland scoreline that'd knock South Africa out of World Cup
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.
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.
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.
Going into the weekend Ireland are on +122, the Boks have +117 points, while the Scots have +97.
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.
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.