Select Edition

Northern Northern
Southern Southern
Global Global

The odd stat that all World Cup quarter-final losers had in common

By Kim Ekin
Reda Wardi #17 of Team France loses the ball during the money time with Faf De Klerk #21 of Team South Africa during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between France and South Africa at Stade de France on October 15, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Xavier Laine/Getty Images)

Each of the four Rugby World Cup quarter-finals provided absorbing and close contests as the top four sides clashed on one side and the rest on the other of the draw.


Ireland versus New Zealand and South Africa versus France have gone down as the best quarter-finals of all time, with a combined five points deciding the two epic contests.

However, all of the losers over the weekend had one thing in common. X user Just Doc noted that the team with the most handling errors lost all four contests.

Video Spacer

Video Spacer

New Zealand were able to overcome two yellow cards and 20 minutes of being down a man in part due to their execution levels, only making one handling error in the entire contest.

Ireland and France were plagued with uncharacteristic and unforced dropped balls at times.

Ireland No 8 Caelan Doris spilling a goal line drop out after Ronan Kelleher was held up over the line was one crucial turning point, while France prop Cyril Baille tried to pick up and throw a wayward pass from Antoine Dupont that ended in a fastbreak try to Cheslin Kolbe.

While likely a coincidence, errors in knockout games can come with big momentum swings that decide contests with fine margins.


Whilst the two most successful World Cup nations making the semi-finals might not surprise anyone, analyst Simon Gleave detailed the historic nature of the quarter-final results on X.

Three of the top five most winningest sides over the cycle making the semi-finals wasn’t new, however this was the first time that the top two nations in win percentage failed to make it into the semi-finals.

Ireland and France made history by bowing out despite being the most successful sides between World Cups.


Ireland’s 28-24 loss to the All Blacks created unwanted history on the level of the 2007 All Blacks who were stunned by France 20-18 in the quarter-finals.

Those two teams are the only teams to not make the semi-finals after holding the highest win rate against the other top nine countries.

Argentina, who won just eight of 30 Tests over the four-year period, became the seventh side in World Cup history to make the semi-finals after winning less than 50 per cent of their games.

It is the third time Los Pumas have done so, adding 2023 to their list of making the top four with less than a 50 per cent winning rate along with 2007 and 2015.

England also joined them as the eighth side in history after beating Fiji to qualify after registering 14 wins from 30 Tests over the cycle.

Argentina and England can take inspiration from the 2019 Springboks who are also on the list, who managed to win the entire tournament despite winning less than half of their games during the cycle.


Join free



Trending on RugbyPass


CuzzyG 269 days ago

All the losers from QFs scored less points 🤣🤣🤣✌️😁

Bob Marler 269 days ago

Oh. I thought the refs were the reason…?

Handling errors? Who knew.

mjp89 269 days ago

All the losers scored fewer points than their opponents. I think that was the difference maker in the end.

Poe 269 days ago

Trick things stats

Jon 269 days ago

The “most winningest”, eh?

Flankly 270 days ago

And, in aggregate, the QF winners got more yellow cards than the losers.

Load More Comments

Join free and tell us what you really think!

Sign up for free

Latest Features

Comments on RugbyPass

TRENDING Time to say goodbye to this Springboks team Time to say goodbye to this Springboks team