What do teams need to qualify for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals?

England - What do teams need to qualify for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals?
England have one foot in the quarter-finals but must not trip up in their next game - Reuters/Stephanie Lecocq

With the pool stage beginning to wind down and the quarter-finals looming on the horizon, only Wales and England are currently through to the knockout stage. What do the other teams need? And why could Ireland or France still technically be knocked out? Here is your helpful permutations guide.

Here are the tie-breakers, in order, should teams end up level on points:

  • The winner of the match in which the two tied teams have played each other shall be the higher ranked.

  • The team who have the best difference between points scored for and points scored against in all their pool matches shall be the higher ranked.

  • The team who have the best difference between tries scored for and tries scored against in all their pool matches shall be the higher ranked.

  • The team who have scored most points in all their pool matches shall be the higher ranked.

  • The team who have scored most tries in all their pool matches shall be the higher ranked.

  • Should the tie be unresolved at the conclusion of steps one through five, the rankings as per the updated official world rugby rankings on Oct 9, 2023 will determine the higher ranked team. See the official world rugby rankings.

Pool A permutations
Pool A permutations
Antoine Dupont (right) - What do teams need to qualify for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals?
France may be without captain Antoine Dupont (right) after the scrum-half sustained a facial fracture against Namibia - Getty Images/Paul Harding


Wins: New Zealand 27-13, Uruguay 27-12, Namibia 96-0
Losses: -
To play: Italy

Still have to win against Italy to guarantee their place in the quarter-finals, given they could drop out of the top two if New Zealand end up on more points than France, and France lose to the Azzurri (with no bonus-points). Finish level on points with New Zealand - perhaps by drawing against Italy or picking up a bonus-point - and France would progress having won that opening game.

New Zealand

Wins: Namibia 71-3, Italy 96-17
Losses: France 13-27
To play: Uruguay

Naturally left with work to do after that opening loss, but put themselves back in the drivers’ seat for second place with an emphatic defeat of Italy. Need a favour from Italy now to top the group (and for France to not pick up two bonus-points in defeat, bringing the head-to-head into play).


Wins: Namibia 52-8, Uruguay 38-17
Losses: New Zealand 96-17
To play: France

Thrashed 96-17 by New Zealand in their penultimate pool match, but all is not lost for the Italians. Yet. Shockingly, victory over a Dupont-less France could send them through.


Wins: Namibia 36-26
Losses: France 12-27, Italy 17-38
To play: New Zealand

Not going through but have played valiantly and their whole tournament was focused on trying to secure a second-ever Rugby World Cup win against Namibia anyway. Mission accomplished.


Wins: -
Losses: Italy 8-52, New Zealand 3-71, France 0-96, Uruguay 26-36

Not going through. They came chasing their first-ever Rugby World Cup win but were stopped short by Uruguay after taking an early lead. Losing Johan Deysel to a ban for his tackle on Dupont was a blow. Ill-discipline also cost the Welwitschias in their final pool game, as they conceded two yellow cards and a red.

Pool B permutations
Pool B permutations
Jonny Sexton (left) - What do teams need to qualify for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals?
Ireland must still beat Scotland if they are to be sure of progressing to the knockout stages - Getty Images/Lionel Hahn


Wins: Romania 82-8, Tonga 59-16, South Africa 13-8
Losses: -
To play: Scotland

The hard work is nearly done but losing to Scotland would be disastrous, given the possibility of being tied on points with Scotland who would own the head-to-head. A bonus-point of some kind would prevent disaster and if they finish level with South Africa then they would top the group on head-to-head.

South Africa

Wins: Scotland 18-3, Romania 76-0, Tonga 49-18
Losses: Ireland 8-13

A bonus-point win over Tonga put the reigning champions on the brink of the last eight. They now wait to see what happens between Ireland and Scotland next weekend.

It’s a complicated scenario, but, if Scotland can defeat Ireland by 21 points and score a try bonus-point, while Ireland also secure a try bonus-point, then South Africa are out.


Wins: Tonga 45-17, Romania 84-0
Losses: South Africa 3-18
To play: Ireland

Fail to beat Ireland and they are out. It is worth noting that Ireland have won the past eight meetings dating back to 2017. Worth noting, too, that should Scotland end up level on points with Ireland and South Africa and it comes down to head-to-heads, then points difference also comes into play.


Wins: -
Losses: Ireland 16-59, Scotland 17-45, South Africa, 18-49
To play: Romania

After defeat to South Africa, Tonga’s faint hopes of reaching the quarters are over.


Wins: -
Losses: Ireland 8-82, South Africa 0-76, Scotland 0-84
To play: Tonga

And following that heavy defeat to Scotland, Romania’s slim hopes of qualifying are also over.

Pool C permutations
Pool C permutations
Wales captain Jac Morgan (left) - What do teams need to qualify for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals?


Wins: Fiji 32-26, Portugal 28-8, Australia 40-6
Losses: -
To play: Georgia

Happy days for Wales, the first side to have qualify, who simply need a win over Georgia to top the group given Fiji mathematically could still sneak in there. A draw or two bonus-points would also be enough.


Wins: Australia 22-15, Georgia 17-12
Losses: Wales 36-32
To play: Portugal

Fiji remain on track for the quarter-finals after tightening their grip on second place with victory over Georgia. Wales slipping up against the same opponent seems unlikely but if they did, Fiji could sneak into first place with a bonus-point win.


Wins: Georgia 35-15,  Portugal 34-14
Losses: Fiji 15-22, Wales 6-40

After grinding past Portugal, the Wallabies can still mathematically qualify for quarters. But if Fiji take one point from their final match against the Portuguese they will join Wales in the knockout stages having beaten Australia earlier in the tournament.


Wins: -
Draws: Portugal 18-18, Fiji 12-17
Losses: Australia 15-35
To play: Wales

The collapse against Portugal was a bit of a disaster, given Georgia might have been putting the heat on the Wallabies for third spot. And they pushed Fiji close but were undone in the second half. They cannot qualify.


Wins: -
Draws: Georgia 18-18
Losses: Wales 8-28, Australia 34-14
To play: Fiji

Portugal’s World Cup is over after defeat to Australia on Sunday.

Pool D permutations
Pool D permutations
Henry Arundell - What do teams need to qualify for the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals?
England will be through to the quarter-finals is they beat Samoa - Getty Images/David Ramos


Wins: Argentina 27-10, Japan 34-12, Chile 71-0
Losses: -
To play: Samoa

England have secured a place in the quarter-finals thanks to Japan beating Samoa.

Accruing 14 out of 15 points has been quietly impressive by Steve Borthwick’s side, who are now guaranteed at least a second place finish in the Pool. Even if Argentina secure a bonus-point victory against Japan, and England lose to Samoa, it would leave the two teams tied on 14 points with England winning the head-to-head.


Wins: Samoa 19-10, Chile 59-5
Losses: England 10-27
To play: Japan

Moved up to second with a dominant win over Chile and set up an eliminator showdown with Japan next weekend.


Wins: Chile 42-12, Samoa 28-22
Losses: England 12-34
To play: Argentina

Less of a threat to England because they do not have the head-to-head advantage. The Brave Blossoms could end up in a showdown with Los Pumas for second place.


Wins: Chile 43-10
Losses: Argentina 10-19, Japan 22-28
To play: England

No way through for them now, because even if Argentina and Japan drew and Samoa ended up level on points with those two sides, they would lose the head-to-head.


Losses: Japan 12-42, Samoa 10-43, England 0-71, Argentina 5-59

Chile’s World Cup ended without a win and point after losing to Argentina in the South American derby.