With the June touring schedule in full flight, several nations have the chance to make great strides in the rankings battle this weekend.
All the top 16 ranked nations are in action except Australia, with the Wallabies focused on their upcoming British and Irish Lions series.
- IRB Match Preview: South Africa v Italy
- IRB Match Preview: Argentina v England
- IRB Match Preview: Japan v Wales
- IRB Match Preview: New Zealand v France
- IRB Match Preview: Fiji v Canada
New Zealand’s place at the top of the IRB World Rankings is guaranteed regardless of their result against France in Auckland on Saturday, given their total of more than 90 ranking points.
The French have lost their past four matches against the All Blacks, but have a far better record in New Zealand than most Northern Hemisphere teams, most recently winning in 2009 in Dunedin.
Victory would see the sixth-placed French move up at the expense of Wales, but England would need to lose to Argentina to relinquish their fourth place – or Les Bleus beat the All Blacks by a substantial margin.
Argentina are a tough proposition on home turf and a Pumas victory could send England down to sixth, depending on other results.
The sides meet at Salta, scene of the sides’ last meeting on Argentinian soil – when the Pumas prevailed 24-22.
A solid victory for Ireland over USA could see them rise two places to seventh, depending on other results.
This time last year Scotland forged their way up the world top 10 with victories over Australia, Fiji and Samoa on their tour of Oceania.
Samoa are again the opponents on Saturday in a four-team tournament hosted by South Africa, also involving Italy, and victory would enable the Scots to climb two places to eighth.
South Africa will stay second in the world with victory against Italy, but should the Italians pull off a surprise, the Springboks would drop into third in the world rankings behind Australia and send Italy rocketing from 12th to eighth.
Asian 5 Nations
The Asian 5 Nations is in full swing, and hosts Malaysia could move ahead of Singapore if they win their encounter at Petaling Jaya Stadium after starting the week four places behind.
The ranking rivalry is keenly evident in the positions of Fiji and Canada, who are competing in the IRB Pacific Nations Cup. They began the week occupying 13th and 14th places respectively, separated by just 0.21 ranking points.
A 20-18 victory for Canada saw them swap places with the Fijians, and with Tonga next up another win would raise them a further place.
- The IRB World Rankings are published every Monday at midday UK time.