Rankings blow for England and Wales
November 25, 2012
Stuart Lancaster's England will be in the second band of seeds for the 2015 World Cup © Getty Images
England's ambitions of winning the 2015 Rugby World Cup have taken a blow with the confirmation they will not be in the top-four seeds for the tournament that they will host.
But the stiutaion could be significantly worse for Wales. Warren Gatland's side face a crunch clash with Australia on Saturday at the Millennium Stadium, where a defeat would see them relegated to the third tier of seeds for the World Cup draw which will take place in London on December 3.
The International Rugby Board will reveal the latest world rankings tomorrow with New Zealand, Australia, France and South Africa occupying the top spots. And with the rankings gap between them and the rest too big to be overturned by next weekend's internationals, those four teams will be the top four seeds for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
England face the All Blacks at Twickenham on Saturday but defeats to Australia and South Africa this autumn have already scuppered their hopes of securing a top seeding, which could have led to a favourable draw for the 2015 World Cup.
Wales' hopes of gate-crashing the top four were dashed by defeats to Argentina, Samoa and the All Blacks. But victory over Australia at the Millennium Stadium will secure their place alongside England, Samoa and Ireland in the second band.
However defeat would see Wales, who finished fourth at the World Cup in New Zealand a year ago, drop into the third tier of seeds along with Italy, Scotland and Tonga with Argentina taking their place in the second band of seeds.
Wales' surprise defeats to Argentina and Samoa earlier this autumn - when Gatland was granted time away to focus on preparations for the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia next summer - could therefore prove decisive in their chances at the 2015 World Cup.
The official IRB world rankings will be released on Monday.
1. New Zealand - 92.91
2. South Africa - 86.94
3. Australia - 86.31
4. France - 85.07
5. England - 81.07
6. Ireland - 80.22
7. Wales - 78.95
8. Samoa - 78.71 (78.709236088306938 to 15 decimal places)
9. Argentina - 78.71 (78.708853582562098 to 15 decimal places)
10. Italy - 76.24
11. Tonga - 76.10
12. Scotland - 75.83
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game