OPINION COLUMN: It is unfair how Ireland are not in the quarter-finals

(Image credit - RLWC2017.com / NRL Imagery)

Ireland have won two games out of three and have been knocked out of the World Cup but there are teams in the quarter-finals with less points than them.

For those who don’t know how the qualifying system works, the teams who finish in the top three in Group A and Group B progress to the quarter-finals while only the top team in Group C and Group D go through.

There are four teams each in Group A and B while there are three teams each in Group C and D.

Australia finished top of Group A with England in second and Lebanon in third.

Tonga came top of Group B while New Zealand and Samoa grabbed the other spots.

Papua New Guinea won Group C while Fiji won Group D.

But I can’t help but feel sorry for Ireland, because they have had a fantastic tournament.

They have beaten Italy, a team mainly made up of NRL players, and their other win came against Wales.

And the game they did lose was to Papua New Guinea, in Port Moresby. And the final outcome was 14-6 to the host nation. Ireland are the only team yet in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup who have come close to beating the Kumuls.

Ireland have been eliminated from the tournament because Papua New Guinea were the team who finished top of Group C with three wins from three.

But, what is very annoying, is that there are two teams who will play in the quarter-finals next weekend who have won less games and have less points than the Wolfhounds.

And they are Lebanon and Samoa.

Lebanon finished in third-place in Group A, having one won game while Samoa finished third in Group B, having won no games. Yes, you read that right, they haven’t won a game yet they are in the quarter-finals.

They drew with Scotland and they booked a place in the quarter-finals due to having better points difference than Scotland.

Not only do Ireland have more wins that each of them individually, they have more points in the group stage than both Lebanon and Samoa put together.

Surely more people than just me thinks it is unfair?

Maybe next time, if a case like this happens again, there should be a knock-out game involved so at least the team who has the disadvantage actually has a chance to prove themselves and get further on in the competition.

Either way, Ireland should be immensely proud of what they have achieved in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

They played as a team and as an outsider looking in, they seem a tight bunch who all get along which is great to see.

The bad incidents will always get the big headlines but Ireland should definitely be gaining some respect from the tournament.

Fair play Mark Aston & Co.

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