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

Lewis Ludlam of England smiles
England joined Wales in the quarter-finals when Japan ended Samoa’s hopes of progressing on Thursday
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 Argentina

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

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

Pool A standings

Remaining fixtures:

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

6 October: France v Italy (20:00)

France will finish top of Pool A if they beat or draw with Italy, while a bonus-point win for New Zealand against Uruguay would mean the All Blacks also go through to the last eight.

If France lose, Italy are likely to go through at their expense, but the hosts could progress if they pick up two bonus points and Italy do not get any.

If France and Italy both finish on 14 points – and assuming New Zealand win with a bonus point – Italy would go through by virtue of having won their head-to-head match.

Pool B

Pool B standings

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.

Even if the Springboks get a bonus-point win on Sunday, that would not quite guarantee them a spot in the last eight.

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.

Ireland v Scotland on 7 October will be the game that settles which two teams go through from Pool B.

Pool C

Pool C standings

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.

Warren Gatland’s men only need a bonus point in their final game against Georgia to make certain of top spot, as Wales beat Fiji in their opening game and therefore would have the advantage of the head-to-head tie-breaker should those two nations finish level on points.

Fiji will join Wales in the quarter-finals if they win or draw against Portugal.

Should they slip up, Eddie Jones’ Australia could sneak into second place providing they beat Portugal with a bonus point on Sunday. However, the Wallabies’ fate is not in their own hands and they are on the brink of a first ever pool-stage elimination.

Portugal could still qualify but would need to beat Fiji and Australia, while Georgia are out following Saturday’s narrow loss to Fiji.

Pool D

Pool D standings

7 October: England v Samoa (16:45)

8 October: Japan v Argentina (12:00)

England’s place in the knockouts was sealed with a match to spare when Samoa, who they face in their final group game, failed to beat Japan on Thursday – meaning Steve Borthwick’s side advance as Pool D winners.

Argentina or Japan will take second spot and meet each other on 8 October to decide which nation will head through to the last eight.

Samoa and Chile have both been eliminated.

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