Playing for pride and rankings points

(IRB) Friday 5 October 2012
 
 Playing for pride and rankings points
Can Argentina secure an historic Rugby Championship victory this weekend?

Despite a mounting injury toll and on the back of a defeat by South Africa, Australia can finish The Rugby Championship on a high this weekend.

Victory for the Wallabies over Argentina would see them revert to second place in the IRB World Rankings at the expense of South Africa - provided New Zealand beat the Springboks to extend their unbeaten run to 16 Tests.

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VIEW IRB STATISTICAL MATCH PREVIEW - SOUTH AFRICA v NEW ZEALAND >>

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Australia have endured an injury crisis during the inaugural Rugby Championship campaign, notwithstanding the fact they were without key players James Horwill and James O’Connor even before the competition started.

Although the All Blacks have the title sewn up, and hold a healthy points lead in the world rankings, there is strong competition to be the best of the rest.

While New Zealand’s top spot is guaranteed regardless of results in Rosario and Johannesburg this weekend, victory for South Africa would reduce the daylight between the All Blacks and the chasing pack.

If Argentina were to topple Australia in Rosario – and the Wallabies are the only side in The Rugby Championship ever to lose to Argentina – they would rise one place in the standings to seventh, shunting Ireland into eighth.

Important year

The IRB World Rankings have taken on added significance in 2012 with the 12 directly qualified teams for Rugby World Cup 2015 being seeded into bands for the Pool Allocation Draw in London on 3 December.

While The Rugby Championship quartet already have their tickets booked for England 2015, the European qualifying process for the eighth Rugby World Cup begins in Hungary on Saturday when the home side take on Bulgaria.

Hungary (85) could leap five places with victory in the opening European Nations Cup 2014 encounter and overtake their higher-ranked opponents, who go into the weekend ranked 79 but would drop three places with defeat.

A Hungarian victory by more than 15 points in Kecskemét, where the Webb Ellis Cup will be in attendance with England Rugby 2015 Ambassador Lawrence Dallaglio, would see them replace Bulgaria at 79th, who would then drop to 84th. However, success for the Bulgarians would see them climb four places.

There are two other fixtures in the European Nations Cup this weekend with Poland taking on the Czech Republic in Division 1B in the knowledge that a win would lift them one place to 27th in the world. However, Czech success would take them from 40 to 34.

Finland and Luxembourg, ranked 96 and 95 respectively, also play on Saturday in Division 2D and victory for the latter would enable them to climb above Vanuatu.

If Finland were to prevail, they would remain anchored to the foot of the world rankings, though close the gap to Luxembourg above.

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