Rugby World Cup: Ireland’s route to the quarter-finals
Defeat to Japan is damaging but Schmidt’s side still have control of their own destiny
But while Saturday’s defeat is clearly damaging - particularly psychologically - it is far from terminal, and Joe Schmidt’s side are still in control of their own destiny.
Simply put, bonus point victories over Russia on Thursday October 3rd and Samoa on Saturday October 12th will guarantee Ireland a place in the quarter-finals.
Ireland are currently on six points in Pool A, thanks to their bonus-point win over Scotland and another losing bonus points picked up against the hosts in Shizuoka.
That means they can still finish the pool on 16 points. Scotland on the other hand, having failed to pick up a bonus point against Ireland, can only reach a maximum of 15 points.
Japan can still finish on 19 points providing they stick four tries on Samoa, and do the same to Scotland in the Pool A finale. However, if they lose to the Scots, they could still qualify behind Ireland as runners-up.
New Zealand’s opening weekend defeat of South Africa means they are destined to finish top of Pool B. Ireland’s loss to Japan means they are now on a last-eight collision course with the world champions - not a palatable proposition for either side.
Should Ireland finish the pool on the same points as Japan, they would finish behind the Brave Blossoms by virtue of their inferior head-to-head record, which separates sides ahead of overall points difference.
However this also means Ireland would finish above Scotland if the two sides finish the pool stages on the same number of points.