Double motivation for Ireland in rankings

(IRB.COM) Friday 18 March 2011
 
 Double motivation for Ireland in rankings
Can Ireland prevent England completing a Grand Slam and move into fourth in the World Rankings themselves?

Eight years ago England travelled to Dublin on the final weekend of the RBS Six Nations knowing that victory over Ireland at Lansdowne Road would not only secure the title but also the much coveted Grand Slam.

The old venue may have been torn down and replaced by the Aviva Stadium, but England find themselves in the same position this weekend and will hope to repeat the 42-6 success that day and end their long wait for another title and Grand Slam.



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If England do complete the clean sweep then they cannot lose their mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation in the IRB World Rankings, regardless of what happens at the Stade de France between Les Bleus and Wales.



Martin Johnson’s men could actually close to within a single rating point of world champions South Africa above them with a victory by more than 15 points, an outcome which would also see Ireland swap places with Wales below them, even if their Celtic rivals were to lose by a similar margin in France.



However, if England’s Grand Slam dreams hit the buffers in Dublin then they could lose their fourth spot to Ireland or even Wales, although for this to happen the Irish must record their first Six Nations win at the Aviva Stadium by a margin of more than 15 points.

A smaller margin could still be enough to lift Ireland above a victorious French outfit into fifth, unless Les Bleus bounce back from their defeat in Rome with a crushing defeat of Wales, in which case the sides would remain where are they.

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Ireland will leapfrog both France and England if they win by more than 15 points to become the top northern hemisphere nation, regardless of the manner of a French win in Paris.

That is, unless Wales were to beat France emphatically in which case they, not Ireland, would climb to fourth in the IRB World Rankings. A scenario which would see England fall two places to sixth and Les Bleus to seventh.



Wales cannot fall from seventh even with a heavy loss to France, although they would slip closer to Argentina. The Pumas will also retain eighth spot regardless of whether Scotland can bring Italy back down to earth and pick up their first Six Nations win of 2011.

Italy’s historic first ever Six Nations win over France did not improve their position of 12th, but it has given them the potential to surge as high as ninth with a win of any margin over Scotland at Murrayfield, condemning their hosts, Fiji and Samoa to a one place fall.

Rankings affected in ENC

It is not only the region’s top nations who will be in action this weekend as 12 others will be in action in the European Nations Cup 2012 with the encounter between Russia and Georgia in Sochi on Saturday the undoubted highlight.



Georgia, the defending champions, have won nine in a row against their neighbours, the most recent a dominant 36-8 victory on neutral soil in Turkey last March which confirmed them as the Europe 1 qualifier at Rugby World Cup 2011.



A tenth consecutive victory will not improve their position of 14th, although a first loss to Russia since 1993 will see them immediately surrender that place back to Canada and negate their elevation on the back of beating RWC 2011 opponents Romania 18-11 last weekend.



Georgia could actually fall another place below USA if Russia were to win by more than 15 points, a margin which would also take their conquerors above Romania into 18th, even if the latter were to beat Spain convincingly in Bucharest.



Russia can also climb a place in defeat if Romania fall heavily to a Spanish side buoyed by last weekend’s 25-10 win over neighbours Portugal in Madrid. 

A win for Spain could lift them as many as four places to a new high of 19th, depending on the margin of victory and the outcome of Ukraine’s visit to Portugal. 



Spain, should they manage to win by more than 15 points, have the potential to condemn Romania to a fall to 20th – their lowest position since the IRB World Rankings were introduced in October 2003.

Portugal and Ukraine hope to avoid a fall in rankings



Portugal will be eager to bounce back from that setback against Spain when they welcome Division 1A newcomers Ukraine to Lisbon, although even an emphatic win over a side ranked 10 places below them will not have any impact on their rating of 20th.



A loss, though, could see Portugal slide as many as three places with Ukraine’s destiny also dependent on the outcomes of Division 1B matches in Brussels and Chisinau with a climb of up to five places possible.



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This is because while a Portuguese win will not alter Ukraine’s rating of 53.34, they could still slip a couple of places if sides below them in Germany and Moldova taste victory over the higher ranked Belgium and the Czech Republic respectively.



The only saving grace for a losing Ukraine outfit would be if Germany and Moldova were to win by more than 15 points, in which case they would remain stationary in 30th with the Czech Republic and Belgium slipping below them.



A Belgian victory may not be enough to improve their position of 26th, partly because the Czech Republic could climb above them if they win in Moldova by more than 15 points. However, losses for both sides could see them plummet up to four places.



Germany and Moldova have the potential to jump up the rankings if they can upset their higher ranked opponents, climbing as many as five places with emphatic wins.



The weekend’s other European Nations Cup match in Division 2B sees Switzerland host Andorra, who are ranked 10 places above them in 56th, in Nyon.



Andorra will climb five or six places with victory on the road, condemning their hosts to a five or six place fall in the process. By contrast, a Swiss win could see them become the higher ranked of the two rivals, providing their triumph by more than 15 points.



The IRB World Rankings update every Monday at 12:00 UK time.