We break down what happens when Rugby World Cup matches are drawn

With 48 matches to be played at Rugby World Cup 2023 in France, it could well happen that there is a draw or two along the way. And if that happens you may want to know if there’s extra time at Rugby World Cup fixtures.

You may remember Australia and England played into extra time in 2003, when the match was drawn after 80 minutes. But have the laws changed since then? We break down what happens if there’s a tie, below.

What happens if there’s a draw at the Rugby World Cup?

If it’s a pool game, nothing.

Matches tied after 80 minutes in the pool stage will be considered as a draw in the table and no winner will be determined through additional rules. So each team is awarded two match points for a drawn match, plus any bonus point earned for scoring four or more tries.   

Of course, two teams from each pool progress to the quarter-finals.

If, at the completion of the pool phase, two or more teams in a pool are level on points, the following criteria are used to rank them, going down the list: 

1) The winner of the match in which the two tied teams have played each other is ranked higher.   

2) The team with the best difference between points scored for and points scored against in all matches is ranked higher.   

3) The team with the best difference between tries scored for and tries scored against in all matches is ranked higher.  

4) The team that scored the most points in all matches is ranked higher.   

5) The team that scored most tries in all matches is ranked higher. Or:   

6) Should the tie be unresolved at the conclusion of steps one through five, the team higher up the official world rankings post pool stage will progress. 

After this, though, is the knockouts.

If there is a draw in the Rugby World Cup knockouts, there will be extra time and potentially ‘sudden death’ or even a kicking competition to determine a winner.

Below is how this breaks down.

How long is extra time at Rugby World Cup?

If there’s a draw in a quarter, semi, third-place play-off or final, here is what happens.

After an interval of five minutes, there will be extra time of ten minutes each way, with five minutes break in-between. Teams have to stay out on the pitch. The referee will have a coin toss during the initial interval to determine who will kick-off and the direction of play.

If there is no winner after two halves of extra time at Rugby World Cup knockouts, we head into sudden death.

Sudden death  

After another five-minute break, there will be a further extra time of ten minutes. During this period the first team to score any points shall be declared the winner.    

Kicking competition  

If after sudden death it’s still a Rugby World Cup draw, we’ll have a a kicking competition. Whoever wins that, wins the match. 

A coin toss decides who kicks first.

Only players who were on the pitch at the conclusion of the match can kick.

five players from each Team will place kick from three different areas, all on the 22 metre line, as follows:  

  • Position 1: directly in front of the posts 
  • Position 2: on the 15 metre line on the left-hand side of the posts (determined as facing the posts)
  • Position 3: on the 15 metre line on the right-hand side of the posts (determined as facing the posts) The referee will start the competition by calling the first player selected from the Team kicking first to the first kicking position. Once the player has taken the kick, the referee calls a player from the opposing Team to kick from the same position.

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.    

Should a player be injured during the kicking competition, they can be replaced – but only by one of the remaining players who was on the field when sudden death in extra time concluded. 

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