Rankings fate lies in hands of Pacific trio

(IRB.COM) Thursday 21 June 2012
 
 Rankings fate lies in hands of Pacific trio
Fiji centre Aisake Katonibau in action during the Fiji v Samoa IRB Pacific Nations Cup match at Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Gound in Tokyo on 10 June 2012 Photo: Kenji Demura (RJP)

The Pacific Island powers of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji hold the key to rises and falls in the IRB World Rankings this weekend.

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Samoa, already crowned Pacific Nations Cup champions, stand between Scotland and a clean sweep of tour victories.

The Scots will be out to add to the scalps of Australia and Fiji and a win would see them edge out Samoa for ninth place in the standings, though Samoa will doubtless have other ideas in Apia.

The Samoans surprised their higher-ranked neighbours Australia in Sydney almost a year ago, and a win against the tourists would maintain their ninth place in the world.

That would leave the Scots’ rankings at the mercy of the Tonga v Fiji IRB Pacific Nations Cup fixture in Lautoka.

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Although the PNC title is decided, a Tongan victory could see them wrest the Scots’ 10th position from them.

North America v Europe

Fiji are sandwiched between Canada (13) and Georgia (15), who face off in British Columbia. A Georgian win would see the Canadians drop two places.

USA, meanwhile, entertain Italy in Houston. A home win could see USA jump one place to 16th. Italy will 

Wales, England and Ireland conclude their Southern Hemisphere trips with their third and final Tests against Australia, South Africa and New Zealand.

Secure on top

New Zealand is secure on top regardless of the final Test result against Ireland, but wins for Wales and England would see them go third and fourth and South Africa drop to fifth.

Wales, England and Ireland have not won a Test between them this month but a final victory would be more than a mere consolation, with valuable ranking points at stake ahead of the next Rugby World Cup.

At the end of this year, the IRB World Rankings will determine the seeding for the 12 automatic qualifiers for the tournament in England in 2015. The teams ranked 1-4 will be kept apart in the pool stage; similarly 5-8 and 9-12.

If France, defeated in the first Test by a late Argentina try, can gain revenge on the Pumas in Tucuman, the sides will switch back to sixth and seventh, while victory over Italy could make USA the biggest climbers – up two places from 17th.

Plenty of daylight will appear between Bulgaria and Hungary, 80th and 81st in the world respectively, should the former register a convincing win in the European Nations Cup: they would climb three places but Hungary would drop five.

Equally, even the narrowest Hungary victory would lift them to 77th and open a nine-place margin between the two sides.

The IRB World Rankings are published every Monday at midday UK time.