Scotland can kick England out of the World Cup
Auckland could become the new Bannockburn if Scots can pull off another famous victory
ENGLAND’S clash with Scotland at the Rugby World Cup was always going to be one of the most anticipated games of the group stages, but after Scotland's dramatic loss to Argentina the clash has taken on titanic proportions with the loser facing the prospect of elimination from the tournament.
The bonus point system has conspired to throw Scotland a lifeline despite their defeat on Sunday, but they will need to produce a spectacular peformance if they are to maintain their record of having made the quarter-finals of every tournament.
In order to progress and cause a sensation by knocking England out of the competition they will probably have to beat the Auld Enemy by at least seven clear points and score four tries into the bargain. The words of the famously anti-English anthem, Flower of Scotland, will rarely have had such significance before a game.
[A] How does the scoring system work?
The team that wins the game gets four points, and if it ends all square both teams get two points. But it is the bonus points that add spice to the equation. A team that scores four tries gets a bonus point, and the losing side also gets a point if they are defeated by seven points or less. But no side can get more than five points in a game.
[B] So where do England, Scotland and Argentina stand?
After three games England are on 14 points, Scotland and Argentina both have 10.
[C] What next?
England play Scotland on Saturday and the following day Argentina take on minnows Georgia.
The bottom line for Scotland is that if they lose they are out. That is because if they are beaten then all Argentina would need to do is overcome Georgia, and it would be possibly the biggest shock in World Cup history if the South Americans failed to win. A draw is no use to Scotland either as it does not change the equation.
If Scotland win against England, things get interesting - and a lot more complicated.
If neither side gets a bonus point they will both finish with 14 points. If Argentina also register a win without a bonus point they too will be on 14 points. In that situation points difference will decide the order – good news for England, bad for Scotland. At present England have a points difference of +99, Argentina are +32 and Scotland are +18.
Both England and Scotland will go through if Scotland win and secure all five points, England get a bonus point and Argentina win but only get four points. (England and Scotland finish with 15 points, Argentina 14). If all three sides end up with 15 points then it is down to points difference again.
However, Scotland's best chance is if they can produce the performance of a lifetime and claim all five points while preventing England from securing one point. If that happens they will leapfrog Martin Johnson's men and will be safe whatever happens between Argentina and Georgia.
England, though, would not be safe, and a five-point win for Argentina would knock out England.
So, when the Scottish team and their supporters belt out Flower of Scotland on Saturday they know that Auckland could be Bannockburn and victory could well send proud Johnno's army homeward to think again. ·
Comments are now closed on this article