Do you find the group stage of this Rugby World Cup very long? Don’t worry, it’s almost finished. The competition enters its last week of these group meetings, which should set the table for the elimination phase and the quarter-finals, scheduled for the weekend of October 14-15. Here are the stakes of the meetings of these last qualifying matches.
Pool A: the Blues must perform against Italy, the All Blacks are almost there
The fate of this group will be decided in the suburbs of Lyon, with two matches scheduled in 24 hours in Décines-Charpieu. New Zealand, which traveled to the Rhône on Friday against Italy (96-17), only needs a victory with the bonus on Thursday (9 p.m.) against Uruguay to validate its ticket for the quarter-finals. Logically nothing too complicated for these All Blacks against a team which has only beaten Namibia in this tournament.
The Blues face the next day, Friday October 6 (9 p.m.), the Italians with a fairly simple deal: a victory, with or without bonus, against the Transalpines, and qualification and first place in the group are assured. A draw would even be enough for the French to finish first with 15 points, the maximum total that the New Zealanders could reach with a bonus victory.
Pool B: Scotland dreams of a feat against Ireland, South Africa can wait calmly
By offering themselves the offensive bonus on Sunday evening against Tonga (49-18) in Marseille, the Springboks took a huge step towards qualification. Barring an incredible arithmetic scenario where Ireland and Scotland would each take an offensive bonus as part of a large victory for the XV du Chardon, the reigning world champions will advance to the quarter-finals after a final day from which they are exempt.
The fate of this death hen will be decided on Saturday evening (9 p.m.) in Saint-Denis, with this explanation between the Irish and the Scots. With 14 points at kickoff, the world number one team will go through with a victory, a draw, and even a defeat with defensive bonus. To advance to the quarter, Scotland (ten points before this match) must win by more than seven points or win with the bonus without letting the Irish take the defensive. Or even by ensuring the improbable scenario mentioned above.
Pool C: the Welsh are already there, Fiji must finish the job
They have already qualified for a week. With three victories in as many matches including a very solid 40-6 against Australia, the Welsh already have their ticket to the quarter-finals. The XV du Poireau faces Georgia on Saturday at 3 p.m., with the opportunity to confirm first place in the group which is open to them. Even a defeat with a bonus would make them finish in the lead, since they would win in any case against Fiji by the principle of direct confrontations with this success (32-26) on the first day.
The Fijians will face Portugal on Sunday (9 p.m.), with the ambition of playing their third World Cup quarter-final in their history after 1987 and 2007. Only a disaster against Patrice Lagisquet’s men would prevent them from doing so, since even a defeat with bonus would allow them to finish tied on points, 11, with the Wallabies and to be ahead of them thanks to their victory in their opposition (22-15). Virtually eliminated and exempt on the last day, Eddie Jones’ men can only hope for a miracle.
Pool D: an Argentina-Japan duel, England already sure of being first
They have one last match on Saturday (5:45 p.m.) against Samoa, but the English have absolutely nothing left to play in the last day of their group. With five points ahead of Japan and Argentina, two selections that it has already beaten, the XV de la Rose will finish first in its group, even in the event of an improbable defeat against the players from the Pacific.
The real challenge of this group D rests on the opposition between the Japanese and the South Americans on Sunday (1 p.m.) in Nantes. Tied on points, the two teams must win to finish second and advance to the quarter-finals. A draw would go to the advantage of the Pumas who have a better point average (+46 against +14) than the Brave Blossoms.
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