Japan have claimed their second win of the Rugby World Cup and the USA are still to come. Their 26-5 win leaves them on eight points, only one ahead of South Africa who are to face Scotland in the next half hour.
Japan would help themselves enormously if they claimed a bonus point win against the USA in the final game. This would take them to 13 points, the maximum they can manage.
- If Scotland beat South Africa, without the latter managing four tries, then matters aren't especially complicated. A bonus point win for Japan would be enough. The largest number of points South Africa could manage in these circumstances is 13 - the same number a bonus point win over the USA would deliver for Japan. If they finish level on points with Japan, the latter progress by virtue of the head to head record. If Japan fail to record a bonus point win over the USA and finish up on 12 points, then South Africa could easily pip them.
- If South Africa scored four tries and lose by less than seven and then proceed to take a bonus point win over the USA, then they would end up with 14 points. This is one more than Japan are capable of achieving. Thus, theoretically, the South Africans can lose two matches (compared to Japan's one) and still qualify.
- If South Africa beat Scotland with or without a bonus point, then the Japanese cannot overhaul them. The subsequent gimme against the USA will easily carry them over the 13 point threshold.
What would it take for Japan to overtake Scotland?
Two losses for the Scots. Highly unlikely. Even if they lose today, as is probable (though, not inevitable), they still have the Samoa game to come.
Therefore, it is imperative for Japan's hopes, that Scotland beat South Africa today. If Scotland beat South Africa by less than seven points and the South Africans beat the USA easily enough to claim a bonus point, then the Japanese would need to claim a bonus point themselves.