RWC23: Ireland v Scotland: Pete Horne dismisses match-fixing concerns

21 point for win for Scotland over South Africa with both teams scoring four tries would send Springboks home

Scotland assistant arch Pete Horne. Image: Craig Watson.
Scotland assistant arch Pete Horne. Image: Craig Watson.

SCOTLAND assistant coach Pete Horne has dismissed out of hand the suggestion that Scotland and Ireland could collude to orchestrate a 21-point defeat for Ireland in Saturday’s eagerly anticipated World Cup Pool B  clash in Paris, which would see both those teams progress to the tournament quarter-finals at the expense of South Africa.

If Scotland beat Ireland by eight points or more on Saturday and prevent their opponents from scoring four tries, they will qualify for the knock-out stages as pool runners-up behind South Africa. Additionally, if Scotland earn a try bonus point in a win over Ireland, that margin of victory only has to be by five points.

However, the idiosyncratic system for ranking teams in the event of a three-way tie on match points means that if Scotland were to record a victory by 21 points or more with four tries scored, and Ireland get a four-try bonus point, then Scotland would finish top of the pool on points differential, and it would come down to the head-to-head result between South Africa and Ireland for the Pool B runner-up spot, meaning Ireland would progress at the expense of the Springboks.


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Such an outcome is, of course, highly unlikely. And the thought of Gregor Townsend phoning Ireland head coach Andy Farrell to suggest that his team – number one ranked in the world and on a 16 match winning streak including that epic win over South Africa a fortnight ago – should agree to lose by 21 points is, frankly, laughable.

However, South Africa head coach Jacques Nienaber stirred the pot yesterday [Monday].

“Could I believe in a scenario that they will decide ‘do we want to get this amount of points and then get South Africa out of the way?’ That would probably be match-fixing, I would say. I hope not,” he said. “Rugby is clean. We wear those t-shirts so hopefully not because that would be extremely disappointing.”

Speaking at a press conference earlier today [Tuesday], Horne was asked if the idea of some sort of deal being struck between Scotland and Ireland to cut out the reigning champions was a ridiculous concept.

‘Yeah [it’s ridiculous],” he replied. “We’ve not even thought about it. We were briefed about it before this press conference, but, prior to that, I hadn’t even seen the comments.”

‘It’s nothing that we’ve spoken about. We’ve just focused on the job we have to do on Saturday night. That’s big enough in itself.

Ireland head coach Mike Catt took a very similar view when he said: “I don’t know what to say about that. I think he [Nienaber] was asked the question. He didn’t actually say it was match-fixing, did he?

“That stuff is just white noise in the background. We’re not going to go in cahoots with Scotland.

“Would we want Scotland to beat us by 21 points? If you asked any player in this room, any of us, would they want Scotland to beat you by 21 points? No, sorry.

“Ultimately, both teams need to win the game. If you do that then you put yourself in a good position. That’s what we will try to achieve.”


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About David Barnes 3820 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

16 Comments

  1. Great to see the 23 men chosen for Saturdays last 16 game against Ireland. Looking forward to a great contest.
    YES WE CAN !!!! Come on you “ Flooers”

  2. Never thought that I would ever see Trump style tactics in rugby!”If we win everything is fine but if we lose it’s cheating, collusion,etc”. Surprised that Russia isn’t involved!!!!! 😂

  3. SA witterings are not just laughable, they’re insulting. Nienaber clearly learning at the feet of the myopic and odious Erasmus. Hope events send them home in a hurry. SA universally despised.

    • Yes but also worth remembering where Neinaber cut his teeth and learned his “craft” as a head coach. Wasn’t in SA

  4. All that matters is that Gregor Townsend and Andy Farrell put out the 23 men they think can win the game for their respective countries. There’ll be big hits and knock ons. There’ll be scrappy play and beautiful rugby. There’ll be great tries and missed chances. At the end of the day one team will triumph and the other will go home. That’s the game we follow. Not the sound bites from those who won’t be involved at the sharp end on Saturday. I believe Scotland will come out on top, leaving most of the “knowledgeable “ pundits scrambling for cover. Let’s see. Come on you “Flooers”

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  5. All that matters is that Gregor Townsend and Andy Farrell put out the 23 men they think can win the game for their respective countries. There’ll be big hits and knock ons. There’ll be scrappy play and beautiful rugby. There’ll be great tries and missed chances. At the end of the day one team will triumph and the other will go home. That’s the game we follow. Not the sound bites from those who won’t be involved at the sharp end on Saturday. I believe Scotland will come out on top, leaving most of the “knowledgeable “ pundits scrambling for cover. Let’s see. Come on you “Flooers”

  6. Nienaber showing he knows diddly squat about any of the home nations if he thinks Ireland and Scotland would rig a match. Hopefully SA will get beaten in the 1/4s.

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    • They are still at it and winning the words battle while degrading the sport. Pete Horne would have been much better not dignifying this nonsense with a sensible answer.

  7. SA coach having the brass neck to talk about being clean and match fixing after the rampant PED use in their game and the grotesque intimidation of officials allowing their players to avoid punishment for blatant red card offences…..never mind the old ABE nonsense….I’d rather see anyone but SA prosper in RWC. They are an utter cancer on the sport.

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    • Their intimidation and corrupt tactics are a disgrace to the sport. Id rather anyone win the RWC than them.

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    • Never mind. I didn’t realise comments had to be approved before being posted. I’m guessing me highlighting David Barnes’ faux pas won’t be published because likely it’s not just his fault but an editor too. You’re lucky the people commenting so far are idiots. P.S. I know you can see my name from my email address but I’m trying to limit the vitriol that I always get when commenting on rugby related posts. Delete before you post, obviously.

      • The reason your other comments were not posted on The Offside Line is that they were unnecessarily offensive.

        The reason you get ‘vitriol’ in response to those comments which do sneak through is probably to do with the same issue I have highlighted above.

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