RWU HQ – Wales beat Fiji on Thursday to win their third pool game of this Rugby World Cup. Remarkably, however, it may not be good enough for them to qualify from the Pool of Death.
Never before has a side that has won three pool games failed to reach the quarter-finals of the competition. This year, it’s a very real possibility.
In case you were wondering how the toughest pool in the tournament could play out, here are the key points:
- Hosts England will crash out of the World Cup if they lose to Australia on Saturday. Wales will qualify for the quarter-finals, along with the Wallabies
- If England draw with Australia but do not pick up a try-scoring bonus, Wales will qualify for the quarter-finals – but the hosts could still beat the Wallabies to second place
- If England draw with Australia and pick up a try-scoring bonus, both qualifying places will still be up for grabs. All three sides will have everything to play for on the final weekend, with England in a stronger position courtesy of the fact they’ll be playing Uruguay
- If England beat the Wallabies, whether or not they get a bonus point, all three sides will be in with a chance of reaching the quarter-finals going into the final round of pool matches. BUT, current leaders Wales will need at least one bonus point to ensure qualification. As England face minnows Uruguay in their final pool game, they would in fact be in pole position for the quarter-finals – with Wales and Australia facing a winner-takes-all showdown
History is not on Wales’s side. They have lost their last 10 internationals against Australia.
But the biggest losers in the Pool of Death are none of the above. They are the Pool of Death’s fifth side, Fiji.
France and Ireland fans may dispute the point, but it’s not unreasonable to assume that Fiji could have finished in the top two of any of the other pools, but three years ago – a ridiculously long time ago – they were locked into Pool A, along with Wales, Australia and England, sides currently ranked second, third and sixth in the world. Having played all three, they have still to pick up a point and will have to qualify for the 2019 tournament in Japan.