Rugby World Cup quarter-final permutations: What England, Scotland & Ireland need to qualify

Nick Tompkins of Wales celebrates victory at full-time versus Australia
Wales were the only nation to qualify for the knockout stage after the opening three rounds of fixtures at the 2023 Rugby World Cup
Venue: France Dates: 8 September to 28 October
Coverage: Full commentary of every game across BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.

The pool stage of the 2023 Rugby World Cup is approaching its conclusion, and for the majority of nations there is still plenty to play for.

After every team has played four group games, the top two finishers in each pool of five go through to the quarter-finals on 14 and 15 October.

The sides finishing third in their pools qualify for the 2027 World Cup in Australia, as do the quarter-finalists.

Who plays who in the quarter-finals?

14 October: Quarter-final 1: Winner Pool C v Runner-up Pool D (Stade de Marseille), 16:00 – currently Wales v Samoa

14 October: Quarter-final 2: Winner Pool B v Runner-up Pool A (Stade de France), 20:00 – currently Ireland v Italy

15 October: Quarter-final 3: Winner Pool D v Runner-up Pool C (Stade de Marseille), 16:00 – currently England v Fiji

15 October: Quarter-final 4: Winner Pool A v Runner-up Pool B (Stade de France), 20:00 – currently France v South Africa

World Cup semi-finals

The winners of the games on 14 October play each other in the first semi-final on 20 October and the winners of the matches on 15 October face each other in the last four on 21 October.

World Cup final

The Rugby World Cup winners will be crowned in Paris on 28 October.

Knockout stage permutations

Before all that, the qualifiers from the pool are yet to be fully determined, with loads of permutations and possibilities coming into play.

In the pool stage, teams earn four points for a win and two for a draw. A bonus point is awarded for scoring four tries or for a defeat by seven points or fewer.

If two teams are tied on the same number of points, the winner of the match between those teams will go through regardless of points difference.

All times in the remaining fixtures listed below are BST – here is what each team needs from their final preliminary matches…

Pool A

France lead Pool A by three points over second-place Italy, while New Zealand are eight points behind in third. Uruguay and Namibia are fourth and fifth respectively

Remaining fixtures:

27 September: Uruguay v Namibia (16:45)

29 September: New Zealand v Italy (20:00)

5 October: New Zealand v Uruguay (20:00)

6 October: France v Italy (20:00)

If France beat Italy they will qualify and finish top of Pool A. Defeat would leave them at risk of elimination if New Zealand win their final two games.

Italy will reach the knockout phase for the first time if they beat New Zealand, or if that game ends in a draw and Italy earn a bonus point but the All Blacks do not. There is a possibility they can also go through if they lose to the All Blacks but beat France, with bonus points all important.

A shock defeat by Italy would mean a first ever group-stage elimination for New Zealand, while winning their final two matches should be enough for the All Blacks to qualify – but that depends on the number of bonus points collected by the current top three in their remaining games.

Uruguay’s only hope is that they win their final two games with bonus points and that they, Italy and New Zealand all finish the pool with 10 points. In that scenario, the head-to-head tie-breaker will be cancelled out – all three teams would have won one and lost one of their two meetings against each other – so points difference will be the next decider.

Namibia can no longer qualify for the quarter-finals.

Pool B

Pool B standings: Ireland lead with 14 points, South Africa have 10, Scotland 5, while Tonga and Romania have no points

30 September: Scotland v Romania (20:00)

1 October: South Africa v Tonga (20:00)

7 October: Ireland v Scotland (20:00)

8 October: Tonga v Romania (16:45)

Ireland will qualify and guarantee top spot if they avoid defeat by Scotland, although Andy Farrell’s men will be sure of a quarter-final place before their final game should South Africa fail to beat Tonga or if Scotland do not beat Romania.

Anything less than a bonus-point win for South Africa over Tonga would allow Scotland to overtake the Springboks with two bonus-point wins, and in that scenario South Africa would go out because even if they and Ireland finish level on 14 points, Ireland would hold the tie-breaker advantage courtesy of their victory on 23 September.

However, Scotland could take a maximum 10 points from their last two games and still not qualify.

There are scenarios in which Ireland, Scotland and South Africa all end up level on 14 or 15 points, with one win and one loss against each other. In such an instance, points difference will come into play.

Tonga and Romania could still qualify by winning their final two games with bonus points, but are relying on Scotland and South Africa also finishing the pool on 10 points and then having a best points difference of the second-placed trio.

Pool C

Pool C standings: Wales are top with 14 points, Fiji are second, Australia third, Georgia fourth and Portugal fifth

30 September: Fiji v Georgia (16:45)

1 October: Australia v Portugal (16:45)

7 October: Wales v Georgia (14:00)

8 October: Fiji v Portugal (20:00)

Wales became the first nation to guarantee their spot in the quarter-finals with their 40-6 win over Australia on Sunday. Warren Gatland’s men will make certain of top spot if they win, draw or take two bonus points in a loss against Georgia in their final match.

Fiji are best-placed to join Wales in the last eight, helped by their superior head-to-head record over Australia. Wins in their final two games against Georgia and Portugal will be enough for them to qualify.

Should Fiji slip up, Eddie Jones’ Australia could sneak into second place with a positive result against Portugal. However, the Wallabies are on the brink of a first ever pool-stage elimination.

Georgia and Portugal have slim chances to a top-two place but will need to cause at least one upset in their remaining fixtures.

Pool D

Pool D standings: England are top with 14 points, Samoa are second, Japan third, Argentina fourth and Chile fifth

28 September: Japan v Samoa (20:00)

30 September: Argentina v Chile (14:00)

7 October: England v Samoa (16:45)

8 October: Japan v Argentina (12:00)

England will seal first place in Pool D by avoiding defeat by Samoa in their final group game. The only scenario in which England could not qualify is if they, Argentina and Samoa end the pool with 14 points, with points difference then the deciding factor.

England would definitely progress from a three-way tie with Argentina and Japan should that occur, having already beaten both of those countries in the pool phase.

If either Japan or Samoa win both of their remaining matches with bonus points, they will go through to the last eight. Anything fewer opens the door for Argentina.

Should Samoa and Argentina end up tied for second spot on the same number of points, the Pumas will finish higher in the group.

Chile have already been eliminated.


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