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02nd Oct 2023

Rassie Erasmus on Ireland vs. Scotland scoreline that would eliminate us from World Cup

Patrick McCarry

Johnny Sexton

“I was thinking about that a lot last night.”

The permutations from World Cup Pool B are enough to make everyone’s head spin but, ahead of Ireland vs. Scotland on Saturday, Rassie Erasmus reckons he has it figured out.

The Springboks director of rugby will be watching this weekend’s game closely, aware that South Africa are all but through… unless a bizarre result plays out at Stade de France.


‘If Scotland beat Ireland 8-0, Ireland are out’

The final shake out of the pool stages has been made complicated by the fact that head-to-head records are being given greater credence when it comes to settling who finishes second or third.

In Pool B, we could have Ireland beating South Africa, Scotland beating Ireland and South Africa beating Scotland. If that happens, there will be some serious head-scratching.

The Boks have finished Pool B on 15 points, after their win over Tonga. Ireland are currently on 14, with a game left, and Scotland are on 10. Rassie Erasmus was asked about the situation in his Monday press briefing.

“Basically, as I understand it,” he began, “if Scotland beat Ireland by more than eight points and Ireland don’t get a bonus point then Ireland is out. We would be first, Scotland second and Ireland out.

“If Scotland beat Ireland 8-0, Ireland are out. That’s how I see it. I was thinking about that a lot last night.

“The other permutation, which is the interesting one, is when all three of us are on 15 points. Then the team with the best (points difference) first of all goes through.  If Scotland’s points difference points is the best, then Scotland will go through and we will fall out as Ireland beat us. First it goes to points difference, then for the second team it is who beat who.

“For that to happen Scotland must score four tries and beat Ireland by more than 20 points and Ireland must get one bonus point somehow. There are three or four very interesting permutations. But if I was Scotland I’d just want to beat them by eight points and not even score a try.

“If I was Ireland I’d definitely make sure they beat them. If Ireland finish first on points difference then we go through as we beat Scotland.”


‘I always thought the Ireland Scotland game was going to be nervy’

“With full humbleness,” Rassie Erasmus continued, “and there is no arrogance saying this, but I’d rather sit here than be Ireland knowing that we’ve been number one in the world all the time and Scotland basically just have to beat them by eight points and they are out of the tournament.

“The score could be 22-12 or 22-13 and Ireland are out of the competition if they don’t get a bonus point. Of the three teams we are probably the most comfortable sitting here knowing we have got a two week rest. Look, maybe we have got six months rest if the cards don’t fall our way.

“We have got two weeks off where we can analyse all three teams that we can possibly play. I always thought the Ireland Scotland game was going to be nervy, just like the France-Italy game will be nervy. I know everybody writes off Italy and though Italy are not used to playing against southern hemisphere teams they are used to playing against northern hemisphere teams. There are going to be some interesting permutations still in the rest of this World Cup.”

According to Rugbypass, though, there is one high-scoring “nightmare scenario” that would knock South Africa out of the World Cup.

‘If Scotland beat Ireland by 21 points or more with a four-try bonus,’ writes Ian Cameron, ‘and Ireland get a four-try bonus point in defeat, then South Africa will be knocked out of the Rugby World Cup.’

What should comfort Ireland and South Africa fans, though, is the fact that Andy Farrell’s side are on an eight-match winning streak against Scotland.

Should Johnny Sexton start, on Saturday, that streak gets even longer. Sexton has beaten the Scots on his last 12 matches against them, and has not lost to them since a World Cup warm-up at Murrayfield, in August 2011.

The form guide and statistics are in favour of Ireland, but Scotland insist this is ‘a straight shoot-out’ with the World No.1, in Paris.


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