Wales face crunch clash with Australia
November 26, 2012
Wales boss Warren Gatland must conjure a big performance from his side if they are to avoid a nightmare Rugby World Cup draw © PA Photos
Wales must avoid defeat against Australia at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday if they are to avoid a nightmare pool draw at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Defeats to Argentina, Samoa and New Zealand during a disastrous end of year campaign have seen Wales' International Rugby Board ranking slump and as a result they are on the verge of slipping into the third band of seeds for next month's World Cup draw.
A win or a draw against Australia would see them retain their place in the second band of seeds but another reverse will see them fall yet further and ensure they will have to play two of the sides ranked in the top eight in the pool stages of the next World Cup.
Victories for the top four sides in the world on Saturday guaranteed their top seeding with New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and France set to be kept apart in the early stages of the World Cup.
Ireland secured their place in the second group of seeds with victory over Argentina last weekend and England are also assured of their place in that bracket despite their defeat to South Africa. They will be joined by Samoa who made history this week by becoming the first Tier 2 nation to climb into the top eight in the world rankings. All three must accept that they will be drawn alongside one of the top four seeds.
Defeat for Wales would also be good news for Argentina. The Pumas' defeat to Ireland saw them fall to 9th in the ranking but a Wallabies victory in Cardiff would see them reclaim a place in the top eight and condemn the Welsh to a perilously difficult pool draw.
If the Pool Allocation Draw was to happen today (26 November), the bands would be as follows:
Band 1: New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, France
Only four automatically qualified teams are in action this weekend. Below is a table of exactly how this weekend's results could affect the automatically qualified teams' ratings points.
England v New Zealand, Twickenham
Wales v Australia, Cardiff
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"This team deserves to be recognised as the greatest of all time." Huw Richards looks at Gareth Edwards' final match for Wales
The two leading contenders for the best modern open-side flanker go head to head in Paris on Saturday. John Taylor assesses the tale of the tape
Move over, Castro - from falling off a chair to stepping off the team bus, Scrum Sevens recounts some of the strangest rugby injuries ever
Martin Gillingham on the latest from France and why the national side can learn a thing or two from Top 14 side Bordeaux Begles