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), 8.30 PM – currently Wales v Argentina
- 15 October: Quarter-final 2: Winner Pool B v Runner-up Pool A (Stade de France), 12.30 AM – currently South Africa v New Zealand
- 15 October: Quarter-final 3: Winner Pool D v Runner-up Pool C (Stade de Marseille), 8.30 PM – currently England v Australia
- 16 October: Quarter-final 4: Winner Pool A v Runner-up Pool B (Stade de France), 12.30 AM – currently France v Ireland
World Cup semi-finals
The winners of the games on 14 October play each other in the first semi-final on 21 October and the winners of the matches on 15 October face each other in the other semi-final on 22 October.
World Cup final
The Rugby World Cup winners will be crowned in Paris on 29 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 in Sri Lanka Time – here is what each team needs from their final preliminary matches…
- 6 October: New Zealand v Uruguay (12.30 AM)
- 6 October: France v Italy (12.30 AM)
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 and Italy both finish level 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.
- 8 October: Ireland v Scotland (12.30 AM)
- 8 October: Tonga v Romania (9.15 PM)
The outcome of Ireland v Scotland will determine which two countries will head through from Pool B.
Ireland will top the group if they avoid defeat or lose by four points or fewer.
A Scotland win, while also denying Andy Farrell’s a bonus point, would send them through and knock Ireland out.
Should the three teams finish level on 15 points, the team with the best points difference will finish top of the group, with second place going to the team that won the match between those two remaining sides.
- 7 October: Wales v Georgia (6.30 PM)
- 9 October: Fiji v Portugal (12.30 AM)
Wales became the first nation to guarantee their spot in the quarter-finals, qualifying with a game to spare.
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 take one point from their last game against Portugal, having beaten Australia earlier in the pool stage.
If Fiji fail to collect any points, Australia will make it through to the last eight in second spot.
- 7 October: England v Samoa (9.15 PM)
- 8 October: Japan v Argentina (4.30 PM)
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.
Article by BBC Sport