The 20 Teams have been allocated to four pools of five Teams each at the RWC 2011 Pool Allocation Draw, held in London in November 2008.
The pool phase will consist of a round robin in which each Team shall play each other Team within the pool once. There will be 10 matches played in each pool, for a total of 40 matches in the pool phase of the Tournament.
Match points system
The following number of match points will be awarded for each pool phase match:
- Win - 4 points
- Draw - 2 points
- Loss - 0 points
- 4 or more tries - 1 point
- Loss by 7 points or less - 1 point
At the completion of the pool phase, the teams in a pool are ranked one through five based on their cumulative match points, and identified respectively as winner, runner-up, third, fourth and fifth.
If at the completion of the pool phase two or more teams are level on match points, then the following criteria shall be used in the following order until one of the Teams can be determined as the higher ranked:
- The winner of the match in which the two tied teams have played each other shall be the higher ranked;
- The team which has the best difference between points scored for and points scored against in all its pool matches shall be the higher ranked;
- The team which has the best difference between tries scored for and tries scored against in all its pool matches shall be the higher ranked;
- The team which has scored most points in all its pool matches shall be the higher ranked;
- The team which has scored most tries in all its pool matches shall be the higher ranked;
- Should the tie be unresolved at the conclusion of steps 1 through 5, the team that is higher ranked in the updated Official IRB World Rankings on October 3, 2011.
Qualification / elimination at the conclusion of the pool phase
The winner and runner-up in each pool qualify for the quarter-finals. Teams ranked third, fourth and fifth will be eliminated from the Tournament.
The first two teams in each pool will progress to the quarter-final round, which will be contested by knockout matches. The quarter-final matches will be determined as follows:
QF 1 - Winner pool C v Runner up pool D
QF 2 - Winner pool B v Runner up pool A
QF 3 - Winner pool D v Runner up pool C
QF 4 - Winner pool A v Runner up pool B
Teams winning quarter-final matches qualify for the semi-finals and teams losing quarter-final matches will be eliminated from the Tournament.
The semi-final matches will be contested by knock out matches, as follows:
SF 1 - Winner QF1 v Winner QF2
SF 2 - Winner QF3 v Winner QF4
The winners of the semi-final matches qualify for the Final, and the losers of the semi-final matches will contest the Bronze Final.
Tied matches will be considered as a draw in the pool phase and no winner determined through additional rules. This means that each team is awarded two match points for the drawn match plus any bonus point earned for scoring four or more tries.
For quarter-finals, semi-finals, Bronze Final and the Final, if teams are tied at fulltime, then the winner shall be determined through the following sequential criteria;
- Extra time - following an interval of 5 minutes, extra time of 10 minutes each way (with an interval of 5 minutes) shall be played in full;
- Sudden death - if the scores are tied at the conclusion of extra time, and following an interval of 5 minutes, then a further extra time of 10 minutes maximum shall be played.
- During this period the first team to score any points shall be declared the winner (sudden death);
- Kicking competition - if after this sudden death period no winner can be declared, a kicking competition will be organised between the two teams. The winner of that competition shall be declared the winner of the match.
For matches completed at the end of extra time or during the sudden death period of play, the final score will be presented as the score at the time at which the match was completed (that is, including extra time or sudden death).
For matches completed through the organisation of a kicking competition, the final score shall be presented as the match score at the completion of the sudden death period, followed in brackets by the notification of the winner of the match and the score in the kicking competition.
If at the end of a knockout match, after extra time and sudden death periods of play have been completed, the teams remain tied, then the Referee will conduct a place-kick competition to determine the winner of the match.
The following procedures apply:
- All Players and Match Officials will remain on the playing enclosure. The Referee will call the captains of the two Teams to the centre of the playing enclosure and will conduct a coin toss. The winner of the coin toss will choose which Team kicks first.
- Only Players on the playing enclosure at the time of the completion of the sudden death period may take part in the kicking competition. For the avoidance of doubt, no substituted (including for injury and/or blood), ordered off or temporarily suspended Player not on the field at the completion of the sudden death period may take part in the kicking competition at any time. The five Players selected and the order in which they kick do not have to be specified at the start of the kicking competition.
- The Match Officials and Team Members will assemble on the halfway line. Team Members must remain behind the halfway line in the side of the playing area not being used for the kicking competition. No one except the Referee, two Assistant Referees and two ball boys is allowed in the part of the playing area being used for the competition.
- First area: directly in front of the posts
- Second area: on the 15 metre line on the left hand side of the posts (determined as facing the posts)
- Third area: on the 15 metre line on the right hand side of the posts (determined as facing the posts)
The next two Players (one from each team) will kick from the second area in turn. This will continue until all five Players from each team have kicked (the next Players kicking respectively from the third area, first area and finally the second area), or until one team is unable to equal the score of the other team within the remaining number of kicks.
If there is an equal number of successful kicks once each team has completed its five kicks, the competition continues on a “sudden death” basis, following the same order of kickers used in the first five kicks.
The competition will continue two kicks at a time (one from each team), going progressively through the three kicking areas stated above (and repeating the process if necessary) until one Player succeeds with a kick and the Player from the other side taking the same kick misses it. Once this occurs, the team of the Player who succeeded with the kick will be declared the winner.
Throughout the kicking competition:
- Players must be nominated immediately on request by the Referee. Once a Player has been handed the ball on the kicking area, he must take the kick within one minute. Should he take longer, the Referee shall declare the kick void.
- After each kick, the Referee will record the number of the Player and whether or not the attempt was successful. The Match Commissioner will record the same details on the official match Report.
- Whether or not the kick is successful is the sole decision of the Referee, who may at his sole discretion rely on the assistance of his Assistant Referees and/or the TMO. The Referee’s decision shall be final and binding.
- Once a Player has completed his kick, he shall return to stand with his team behind the halfway line in the side of the playing area not being used for the kicking competition.