Trio battle for fourth spot in rankings

(IRB.COM) Friday 8 February 2013
 
 Trio battle for fourth spot in rankings
Fourth spot in the rankings will be on the line when England meet Ireland at Aviva Stadium

England, France and Ireland could all end the weekend as the leading northern hemisphere nation in the IRB World Rankings depending on results in the second round of RBS 6 Nations matches.

England currently occupy fourth position behind the southern hemisphere triumvirate of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, but defeat to Ireland at the Aviva Stadium will see them surrender that to a French side victorious over Wales.

However, if Ireland were to keep their hopes of a Grand Slam alive by beating England by more than 15 points and France lose at the Stade de France, then Declan Kidney’s men would climb two places to fourth and equal their best ever ranking.

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A smaller margin of victory over Ireland will still lift them above a Les Bleus side suffering a second consecutive loss in 2013, but on the other hand if the Irish lose heavily to England, they could fall one place if Wales also win by more than 15 points on French soil.

Wales have now lost eight matches in a row since winning the Grand Slam and slipped to 10th – equalling their lowest ever ranking – but if they can end that run with victory over France then they could climb as high as sixth, depending on other results.

Buoyed by victory over France last weekend, Italy could climb to a new high of seventh in the rankings if they can beat Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday. They will definitely climb above Samoa and Argentina, but could end up eighth depending on a Welsh margin of victory.

A second defeat of 2013 will not see Scotland slip from their lowest ever position of 12th as they will still have at least a 2.66 point cushion over Fiji below them. However, an emphatic win over Italy – and the same for France – could lift Scotland as high as ninth and drop Italy to 11th.

Big gain for Portugal?

There could be just as many changes to the IRB World Rankings from the three matches in the European Nations Cup 2014 Division A – which doubles as the regional qualifying process for Rugby World Cup 2015 – on Saturday with the six sides ranked 17th to 23rd.

The only certainty is that a Georgian victory over Portugal in Tbilisi will have no impact on the rating points of either side, while the Lelos could remain 17th even if they suffer a first loss to Portugal since 2005, depending on the outcome of the Romania-Russia match in Bucharest.
 
Portugal, if they can bounce back from a 19-13 loss to Romania at home last weekend, could climb back into the top 20 to make them no longer the lowest ranked of the Division 1A teams. Georgia will only slip from 17th with a loss by more than 15 points.

If Russia can repeat their 2009 victory in Bucharest then they could climb to 17th, but defeat could also see them lose the place they gained on the back of last weekend’s 13-9 win over Spain in Sochi. Defeat for Romania could see them fall to a new low of 21st, depending on other results.

Belgium are currently at their highest ever position of 21st and if they can build on last weekend’s narrow 17-13 loss to Georgia with victory on Spain then they could climb another place. On the flip side, a heavy loss on home soil in Brussels could result in a fall of between one and four places.

Spain surrendered their highest ever ranking after the loss to Russia, but victory over plucky newcomers Belgium has the potential to lift them one place to 19th as the battle to secure Europe’s two places at RWC 2015 looks to set to be even more competitive this time.

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