Going through or going home? – Ireland v Scotland talking points

Ireland and Scotland are preparing for a pivotal Rugby World Cup qualification shootout in Paris.

Progression to the quarter-finals from Pool B is on the line for both sides on Saturday evening at Stade de France.

Here, the PA news agency picks out some of the major talking points.

The permutations – who needs what?

One of the top five teams in the world is set to be eliminated from the tournament. Barring an unlikely result in the French capital, it will be Ireland, ranked number one, or Scotland, ranked fifth, who bite the dust. Ireland are firmly in the driving seat for qualification. All Andy Farrell’s team need to qualify is a losing bonus point while denying the Scots a winning bonus. That scenario would be enough for the Irish to finish top of the pool ahead of South Africa. The Scots face a far taller order. Gregor Townsend’s side must win with a bonus point (by scoring at least four tries) or by denying their opponents a losing bonus.

Springboks made to sweat

South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber is anxiously awaiting the outcome at Stade de France
South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber is anxiously awaiting the outcome at Stade de France (David Davies/PA)

Decade of dominance

If Scotland are to upset the odds, they must snap an eight-match losing streak against their rivals stretching back to 2017. Ireland have dominated the fixture across the past decade, winning 12 of the last 13 meetings, including a 27-3 pool-stage success at the last World Cup and a 22-7 triumph en route to Six Nations Grand Slam glory earlier this year. Ireland’s players have talked down the significance of that run of results and feel Townsend’s men have improved since being mastered at Murrayfield in March. Nevertheless, the last time Scotland registered a victory over the Irish which would be sufficient for progression this weekend was way back in 2007 – a 31-21 warm-up win ahead of the last World Cup to be staged in France.

Sexton versus Russell

Will Ireland captain Johnny Sexton be upstaged by rival fly-half Finn Russell?
Will Ireland captain Johnny Sexton, pictured, be upstaged by rival fly-half Finn Russell? (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Could gung-ho Scots spook the Irish?

Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie, left, said his side
Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie, left, said his side “won’t die wondering” (Andrew Matthews/PA)

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