Second spot in rankings in Australia's sights

(IRB.COM) Thursday 15 August 2013
 
 Second spot in rankings in Australia's sights
Fly half Matt Toomua will make his Test debut for the Wallabies in Sydney

Australia have not beaten New Zealand in Sydney since 2008, but if they can give Ewen McKenzie a winning start to his reign as coach then the Wallabies will climb above South Africa into second in the IRB World Rankings.

The Wallabies currently trail South Africa by just under two tenths going into the opening weekend of The Rugby Championship, but the Springboks cannot improve their own rating even with an emphatic victory over 10th ranked Argentina in Soweto.

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Australia could, in theory, close to within 0.14 points of top spot, but this would require them to beat the All Blacks by a margin of more than 15 points at ANZ Stadium, something they haven’t done since a 17-0 victory in Christchurch back in 1921.

A win for New Zealand would give them their 100th Test victory over Australia – making them the first to ever record a century over a single country – and increase their cushion at the top to just over four rating points ahead of South Africa.

If the All Blacks can win by more than 15 points then the southern hemisphere dominance of the top three positions in the IRB World Rankings will end with Australia falling below England to fourth by just over three tenths.

Australia, though, could lose The Rugby Championship opener and still climb to second in the rankings in the event that Argentina record a first ever victory over South Africa at FNB Stadium  as any margin of defeat would drop the Springboks to fourth.

If Argentina can create a piece of history with their first Rugby Championship victory then they will climb one or two places, depending on the winning margin, with Scotland and Ireland the teams in their sights.

North American pride

The Rugby Championship is not the only focus this weekend with Canada and USA facing each other in the first leg of a play-off to determine the Americas 1 qualifier for Rugby World Cup 2015, who will join France, Ireland, Italy and the Europe 2 qualifier in Pool D at the showpiece in England.

Canada are the higher ranked at 15th, three places above their North American rivals and whatever happens in the 50th meeting between the two sides in Charleston on Saturday they will retain that mantle going into next weekend’s second leg in Toronto.

The Canucks, who overcame the Eagles 47-30 on aggregate to qualify as Americas 1 for Rugby World Cup 2011, will swap places with Japan if they win on American soil with their hosts remaining in 18th regardless of the margin because of the cushion they currently enjoy over Russia.

Four years ago the Eagles won the opening leg 12-6 at the same venue – Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston – and if they triumph again then a climb of one or two places is possible. The hosts would also climb above Romania even if the first leg ends in a draw.