England aim for France's spot in rankings

(IRB.COM) Friday 9 March 2012
 England aim for France's spot in rankings
Can captain Chris Robshaw lead England into the IRB World Rankings' top four?

France may have the chance to bounce straight back to third in the IRB World Rankings with victory over England in their Six Nations encounter on Sunday, but defeat will end their stay in the top four spots so crucial for the Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool Allocation Draw later in the year.

A victory will lift Les Bleus back above South Africa, regaining the place they lost after the 17-17 draw with Ireland last weekend, but defeat at the Stade de France would see Philippe Saint-André’s charges swap places with their conquerors England to be ranked sixth.

Wales would remain stationary between the two as any margin of victory over Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday will have no impact on their rating as a consequence of being at home and ranked seven places and 9.29 points above the Azzurri.

A narrow loss for France could leave them just one hundredth behind a victorious Welsh side before their meeting at the Millennium Stadium next weekend, while a loss by more than 15 points could leave Les Bleus as little as 1.27 points above an Irish outfit emerging the winners against Scotland.






England cannot fall from sixth if they suffer a second successive loss under interim coach Stuart Lancaster, but could be left sitting just 0.17 points above Ireland if the men in green emphatically beat Scotland at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

The only hope for Ireland to improve their position of seventh, having risen one on the back of the draw with France, is if Wales suffer an emphatic loss at the hands of Italy. Wales, though, would need to lose by more than 15 points to fall as low as eighth – a position they occupied going into the Six Nations. This would not only drop Wales below a losing England, but also Ireland and Argentina.

An Italian shock at the Millennium Stadium would lift them above a losing Scotland into 11th, condemning the Scots to their lowest every position since the IRB World Rankings were introduced in October 2003. Italy could climb another place with an emphatic win, while Scotland can climb above Samoa and Tonga back into the top 10 if they can repeat the 23-20 win they enjoyed on their last visit to Dublin in 2010.

A Scottish victory by more than 15 points – something they haven’t managed in over a decade – will actually lift Andy Robinson’s side above Ireland into eighth, leaving the Irish occupying their lowest ever ranking of ninth.

Traditional rivalries in ENC

Away from the Six Nations, there are five other matches this weekend which could impact the IRB World Rankings, three in the European Nations Cup Division 1A and two in Division 1B. Two matches stand out for traditional rivalries in the European Nations Cup top tier as Georgia travel to Bucharest to face Romania and Portugal host neighbours Spain in Coimbra on Saturday.

Georgia, who beat Romania 25-9 during RWC 2011, can return to 14th – at the expense of Japan – if they beat the Oaks by more than 15 points, while their hosts will again swap places with USA to drop to 17th with any margin of defeat.

Romania cannot improve their standing of 17th if they hand Georgia’s their second ENC defeat in 2012 as they trail Fiji above by three points, although the Lelos will pay the price by slipping another place to 16th with the Fijians the beneficiaries.

Spain cannot improve their position of 19th if they record a first win on Portuguese soil since 1995, but can inch closer to USA – or Romania with defeat – above them. Portugal will slip a place to 25th if they lose and Belgium, the side below them, beat Moldova in Division 1B.

A defeat by more than 15 points will see Spain – who stunned Georgia last month – swap places with Namibia below them, while Portugal could climb as many as two places, depending on the margin of victory and Russia’s match with Ukraine.

Big gains on cards in Prague

Victory for Russia will not impact the rankings with 10 places and 7.52 points separating the two sides. However, if Ukraine end a run of six straight defeats in Division 1A then Russia could drop two to 24th and their conquerors rise as many as three places depending on results in Division 1B.

Division 1B leaders Belgium cannot improve their rating of 25th with victory, unless Portugal lose, but defeat to lower ranked Moldova could see them fall as many as three places, enabling their hosts to become the higher ranked of the two if they win by more than 15 points.

It is Germany, though, who have the potential for the biggest climb of the week. They currently lie 36th and separated by mere thousandths from their opponents, the Czech Republic below them, but could rocket as high as 30th with victory in Prague.

The Czech Republic could slide as many as four places with a loss by more than 15 points, but on the other hand if they beat Germany they can rise by as many places, condemning their visitors to a fall as low as 39th.

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