Home Rugby Explained: The Three-Way Race For Qualification In Pool A

Explained: The Three-Way Race For Qualification In Pool A

There are just two matches remaining in Pool A of the 2019 Rugby World Cup with Ireland, Scotland and Japan all still within a shout of qualifying for the knockout stages. 

Japan’s bonus-point victory over Samoa on Saturday has seen them go on top of Pool A with 14 points after three games played.

Ireland are on 11 points with three games played and Scotland are on 10 points with three games played after their massive 61-0 win over Russia on Wednesday.

The top two teams qualify for the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

Just to refresh, here is the current state of play in Pool A.

Pool A Qualfication
The current Pool A table

Here are the remaining two games to be played:

Saturday, October 12: Ireland v Samoa

Sunday, October 13: Japan v Scotland

Ireland: 

  • If Ireland secure a bonus-point win against Samoa, they will qualify for the knockout stages. Whether they come first or second will depend on the result between Scotland and Japan.
  • If Ireland beat Samoa without a bonus point and Japan don’t pick up any points against Scotland, they will qualify. The only way Ireland may not qualify in this instance is if they finish on level points with Japan and Scotland* (see below to see how that scenario could occur).
  • If Ireland beat Samoa without a bonus-point and Scotland get less than maximum points in their clash with Japan, they will qualify.
  • If Ireland draw with Samoa and Scotland lost to Japan, Ireland will qualify.

 Japan: 

  • A win of any kind against Scotland will see Japan in the quarter-finals as the number one ranked side.
  • If Japan draw with Scotland, they will qualify for the quarter-finals as the number one ranked side.
  • If Japan can only claim a losing bonus point, they will qualify for the quarter-finals as long as Ireland don’t beat Samoa with a bonus-point OR Scotland don’t beat them with a bonus-point.
  • If Japan don’t pick up any points against Scotland, they can only qualify if Ireland lose or draw to Samoa.

Scotland:

  • A bonus-point win against Japan will see Gregor Townsend’s side into the final eight unless Japan can secure two bonus points (LBP & TBP). If Japan pick up a solitary bonus-point of any kind, the head-to-head record against Scotland will see the Brave Blossoms miss out (assuming Ireland record a bonus-point victory Samoa).
  • A win without a bonus point over Japan would see Scotland through as long as they deny Japan a bonus-point of any kind (assuming Ireland beat Samoa).
  • A draw would see Scotland through if Ireland failed to beat Samoa and picked up no bonus points in the process.

Head-to-Head 

If you don’t know already, if two sides end up on the same points at the end of the pool stages, then the head-to-head record between the two teams will then decide who finishes higher.

Three-Way Tie*

If Ireland, Scotland and Japan all finish on the same level of points, then the top-ranked team in the pool will come down to scoring points difference.

Whoever has the greatest points difference will finish top of the pool. To decide who finishes as runner-up, the head-to-head record between the second and third-placed teams will be used.

Here is the scenario which could see these three teams finish on the same points (15):

A bonus-point win for Scotland in their match with Japan with the host nation picking up a losing bonus-point and of course, Ireland beating Samoa without a bonus-point.

Scotland (+71), Ireland (+52) and Japan (+46) would see Scotland finishing top of the pool assuming that Gregor Townsend’s side’s greater score differential still stands.

Then it would go to head-to-head record which would see Japan finish ahead of Ireland because of the shock result in Shizuoka.

As a result, Ireland would be eliminated from the World Cup. 

About Sean McMahon

Sean is Head of Pundit Arena Rugby. Contact him on Twitter here: