Super Sunday: Everything you need to know
Between rugby and soccer, it promises to be the biggest sporting day of the year
Football - Republic of Ireland v Germany - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Group D - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Republic of Ireland - 8/10/15 Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill Action Images via Reuters / Andrew Couldridge
Thursday, October 9th, 2015. What a night for Irish sport. It’s far too much to ask for anyone to be fully recovered from the delirium that greeted Shane Long’s 70th minute strike. Watch it, re-watch it, bask in its glory, declare your undying love for the Tipperary man, take the day off work, do whatever you have to do because moments like that don’t come around too often.
And the best part? There’s more to come on Sunday. And not just on the football pitch. We have Ireland’s clash with France to decide who tops Pool D in the Rugby World Cup, followed by Ireland in Poland to decide who automatically qualifies for Euro 2016 and who will have to go through the play-offs. Book the couch/barstool, stock up on whatever you have to stock up on and prepare yourself - this one is going to be big.
To make life easier we’ve put together all of the information you could possibly need for what’s sure to be a rollercoaster of a sporting Sunday.
Rugby World Cup, Pool D: Ireland v France
What time is kick-off? 4.45pm.
Where is it on? Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
Where can I watch it? TV3’s extended coverage begins at 3.20pm.
What does the table currently look like?
1. Ireland (F: 110, A: 26, Pts: 14)
2. France (F: 111, A: 39, Pts: 14)
What do Ireland need to do? Joe Schmidt’s side are very much in the driving seat going into this one. Ireland currently sit top of Pool D on 14 points with France, who are on the same points total, in second place with an inferior points difference. Basically, it’s winner takes all in Cardiff with a draw also being enough to see Ireland top the group.
Who can Ireland face in the quarter-finals? It’s what happens in Pool C that really matters for Ireland in terms of advancing past the quarter-final stages. The winner of Ireland’s pool will play the second placed team in Pool C and vice versa. Those games will both take place in Cardiff on Saturday October 17th and Sunday October 18th.
New Zealand currently sit top of Pool C and are all but assured of first place. They play Tonga at 8pm on Friday needing a win to guarantee first place. In the very unlikely scenario that Tonga beat the All-Blacks, Steve Hansen’s side could actually end up finishing second. For that to happen Argentina would need to beat Namibia on Sunday and secure a bonus point. That game kicks off at midday. That combination results would see Argentina top the group on 15 points with the All-Blacks second on 14.
It’s an extremely unlikely situation but the possibility is there. The possibility is also there for Argentina not to make the quarter-finals at all. Tonga sit just four points behind the Pumas meaning that a bonus point win over the All-Blacks coupled with an Argentinian loss to Namibia would see them qualify in second place. But, realistically, New Zealand will top the group with Argentina second therefore meaning that Ireland and France are essentially playing to avoid the All-Blacks.
Euro 2016 Qualifiers, Group D: Ireland v Poland
What time is kick-off? 7.45pm.
Where is it on? Stadion Narodowy, Warsaw.
Where can I watch it? RTÉ’s coverage begins at 7pm.
What does the table currently look like?
1. Germany (F: 22, A: 8, Pts: 19)
2. Poland (F: 31, A: 9, Pts: 18)
3. Ireland (F: 18, A: 5, Pts: 18)
What do Ireland need to do? This is a little bit more complicated than the rugby. Thursday night’s win means that Ireland are guaranteed at least third place in the group. Third place ensures a play-off (more on who we might face later).
Looking at it simply, Ireland need to go to Warsaw and beat Poland to qualify for Euro 2016. A win for Martin O’Neill’s men would see his side finish on 21 points, guaranteeing one of the automatic berths and relegating Poland to third place. A 0-0 draw or a 1-1 draw would see Poland finish ahead of Ireland. But a 2-2 draw would mean that Ireland would overtake Poland.
Surely a draw is a draw. Why the need for 2-2 or more? Well, it’s because Uefa prefer to use head-to-head results, rather than goal difference to separate teams on the same points. A 2-2 draw would mean that Ireland scored two away goals, one more than the goal Poland scored in Dublin, therefore placing Ireland above the Poles.
Okay. Is that it? Not exactly, in fact it’s about to get more complicated. Germany are safely through so we can forget about them, you’re all thinking. Wrong. There is, in fact, a series of results that could see Germany finish third. The side that lost in Dublin on Thursday welcome Georgia to Leipzig on Sunday night, still needing a point to ensure qualification. Were Georgia to pull off an absolute miracle and beat Germany on their home patch then Joachim Low’s side would finish on 19 points. To make it extra complicated, let’s say that Ireland draw with Poland. This means that all three teams finish on 19 points. Ireland would leapfrog Germany due to a superior head-to-head record while Poland would also go ahead of the Germans as they managed to score an away goal in their clash with Germany last month. Much like the chances of New Zealand losing to Namibia in the rugby, this scenario is a serious long shot. But you never know.
That’s, eh, a lot to take in. Don’t tell me there’s more? Don’t worry, we’re nearly done. There’s just one more situation to discount. The best third-placed team from all of the qualification groups automatically makes it to France next year. Looking at the tables, Ireland’s 18 points is the highest total of any of the third-placed team.
Excellent! Let’s book the flights to France! Hold on just a minute. Uefa, in their infinite wisdom, have decided that the best third-placed team will be determined with the results against the bottom team in the group discarded. This means that Ireland lose the six points earned against Gibraltar, taking O’Neill’s men out of the reckoning. For what it’s worth, it looks like Hungary will be getting that spot.
But who might we get in the play-offs? Okay. Here we go again. The draw for the play-offs will take place on Sunday, October 25th with the first legs to be played over November 12th, 13th and 14th and the returning legs over November 15th, 16th and 17th.
To see who Ireland could face we have to enter, yet again, into the realms of guesswork. Essentially the play-offs pit four seeded teams against four unseeded teams. The seedings are determined by using the Uefa co-efficient system. Ireland’s current co-efficient is 23, higher than four of the teams looking likely to make the play-offs, meaning that O’Neill’s side would be seeded. As with everything though, this is subject to change.
At the moment the seven other teams that look likely to make up the playoffs are: Ukraine, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Slovenia, Turkey and Israel.
I think I need a lie down. Just one final part. The last four teams listed all have lower co-efficients than Ireland, meaning that they would be the un-seeded teams. Yet again, this is all subject to change but let’s just go with it for the moment. Out of those four teams there are certainly no easy clashes. Slovenia would probably be the best draw with a trip to Turkey the most undesirable. But there’s still plenty of football to be played and it will all become clearer on Sunday night. Thankfully.