Australia target return to third in rankings

(IRB) Friday 22 November 2013
 
 Australia target return to third in rankings
Will Scotland celebrate a third victory in a row over Australia or can the Wallabies win to return to third in the rankings?

Australia can re-establish the southern hemisphere triumvirate at the top of the IRB World Rankings with victory over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday, although history suggests that the Wallabies will not be taking anything for granted having lost the last two meetings between the sides.

The Wallabies closed to within five hundredths of England - the side that climbed above them in August but have already completed their November international campaign - and as a result any margin of victory over Scotland will see the rivals swap places.

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Unfortunately for Scotland, claiming the scalp of Australia once again is unlikely to lift them from their current position of ninth, unless the side above them Samoa come unstuck against the lower ranked Georgia in Tbilisi the same day.

Australia, though, could fall one place to fifth if they lose by more than 15 points and France upset number two side South Africa by a similar margin at the Stade de France. Smaller margins would leave the sides occupying fourth and fifth respectively.

The Springboks are guaranteed to end the year in second place, regardless of the result against Les Bleus because they cannot lose enough points to slip to third or gain enough to climb above a New Zealand team suffering a first loss to Ireland.

Wales will not improve their rating with any margin of victory against Tonga at the Millennium Stadium on Friday, but Warren Gatland's men could still gain another place, if France lose to the Springboks.

On the flip side, if Tonga can pull off an upset and record a first win on their European tour, then they could enter the top 10 and condemn Wales to a fall of around two places. In this event, a Samoan victory in Georgia could lift them to their highest ever position of sixth in the IRB World Rankings.

Record at stake

New Zealand are bidding to become the first team in the professional era to go through a calendar year unbeaten having recorded 13 wins from 13 in 2013. Victory number 14 at the Aviva Stadium will not have any impact on their rating, but would drop Ireland below a victorious Samoa.

A shock first loss would see the All Blacks' rating fall by two points and could - depending on other results, lift Ireland one or two places from their current position of seventh.

Argentina have lost 10 of their last 11 internationals and this weekend travel to Rome to play Italy, the side ranked directly below them in the rankings. A win to finish the year is unlikely to improve Argentina's position of 10th, but defeat could see them slide a couple of places and lift Italy into the top 10.

Italy could fall a couple of places with defeat on home soil with Fiji having the opportunity to inch closer to the top 10 if they emerge victorious against Romania, a side who have enjoyed a good November with victories against the higher ranked Tonga and Canada.

Romania, who are unbeaten in 2013, climbed one place last weekend but to continue their upward motion they will have to beat Fiji and rely on 22nd ranked Portugal beating Canada for the first time. A Fijian defeat would also enable Japan to advance to 13th with victory over Spain in Madrid.

The USA Eagles, fresh from beating Georgia with the final kick last weekend, will tackle Russia at Allianz Park and can climb one place to 17th, depending on other results, if they maintain their 100 per cent record against the Bears. Another loss at the hands of the Americans could see Russia fall from 19th if Spain can upset Japan.

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