The Rugby World Cup is heading towards the knockout stages, with the final round of pool matches set to get underway on Thursday when New Zealand take on Uruguay in Pool A. England and Wales have already progressed to the quarter-finals, with Ireland and Scotland also vying to join them.
England have stormed to the top of Pool D after winning all three of their pool matches ahead of their final clash with Samoa on Saturday. Japan and Argentina are level pegging behind England and will go head-to-head on Sunday in a winner-takes-all contest.
Wales have been in formidable form during the Rugby World Cup and have matched England’s record of three wins. Warren Gatland’s team thrashed Australia in their last match, and the two-time champions will be eliminated on Sunday if Fiji pick-up at least a bonus point against Portugal.
But the most enticing clash of the round will come on Saturday night in Pool B when Ireland face Scotland at the Stade de France. Ireland are currently second in Pool B behind South Africa, with Scotland in third. But, incredibly, Ireland and Scotland could still both qualify if Gregor Townsend’s side win the match by 21 points and both sides score a try bonus point. And the unlikely scenario has led to questions from journalists about potential match fixing.
“I don’t know what to say about that,” said Ireland assistant coach Mike Catt ahead of the game when the subject was raised in his press conference. “That stuff is just white noise in the background. No, we’re not going to go in cahoots with Scotland.”
And Scotland assistant coach Peter Horne told reporters: “It’s not something we have paid too much attention to. Everyone understands the job we’ve got to do, the magnitude of it.”
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