Sun. Sep 20th, 2020

What happens if a Rugby World Cup knockout match ends in a draw

If teams cannot be separated after 80 minutes in a Rugby World Cup knockout match, stand by for extra-time, sudden death and then a kicking competition..

what happens if a rugby world cup knockout match ends in a draw 1024x567 - What happens if a Rugby World Cup knockout match ends in a draw

Only three times in Rugby World Cup history has a knockout match ended in a draw and on all three occasions, the contest was settled in extra-time.

The Springboks were involved in the first two knockout match draws, ending the 80 minutes of the 1995 final against the All Blacks level before that Joel Stransky drop-goal separated the teams. In 1999, the Springboks were involved in another tight contest, this time against Australia, which went to extra-time. Another drop-goal, this one from Stephen Larkham sent the Wallabies through to the final. 

Australia has also been involved in two contests that went to extra-time, like the Boks, they won their first and lost their second. In the 2003 Final a drop-goal was again decisive, this time off the weaker right boot of Jonny Wilkinson.


At the 2019 Rugby World Cup extra-time will be used yet again if any knockout matches end the regulation 80 all square. 

“For the rest of RWC 2019, if teams are level at full-time, they will play 20 minutes of extra-time (10 minutes each way, with an interval of five minutes),” a World Rugby press release reads.

Should teams remain level after extra-time they will face another period of additional time with ‘sudden death’ rules in effect.

“If the scores are still level, 10 minutes of ‘sudden death’ will follow. The first team to score any points during ‘sudden death’ will be declared the winner.”

Rugby World Cup kicking competition

If the teams still cannot be separated, a kicking competition will determine the winners in the Rugby World Cup’s version of a penalty shootout.

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Rugby World Cup tiebreaking kicking competition positions. Image: World Rugby

“Each team nominates five kickers from the players still on the field and informs the referee of the order in which they will kick. These five players will then have one attempt each to kick a goal from one of three spots on the 22-metre line: directly in front of the posts (position one), on the 15-metre line to the left of the posts (position two) and the 15-metre line to the right of the posts (position three).

“The sequence is as follows for each team: kicker one from position one; kicker two from position two, kicker three from position three; kicker four from position one; kicker five from position two.

“The winning team is the one with the most successful kicks after five attempts, or earlier if one team is unable to equal the score of the other team with the number of kicks remaining. 

“If there are an equal number of successful kicks, the competition moves to ‘sudden death’, following the same order of kickers used for the previous five kicks until one player succeeds with a kick and the other misses from the same position.”

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