England expected to retain fourth spot
March 18, 2012
Ben Youngs' score helped England retain fourth spot in the IRB rankings © Getty Images
Wales' Six Nations triumph will not be enough to lift them above England in the latest International Rugby Board rankings while Scotland's wooden spoon woe is set to be compounded by a slump to their lowest ever position.
England's 30-9 win against Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday was only good enough for second place in this year's battle for northern hemisphere supremacy but it will ensure they retain the all-important fourth spot in the rankings that will provide a top seeding in the 2015 Rugby World Cup pool draw at the end of the year.
Wales' wrapped up their 11th Grand Slam with a hard-fought 16-9 victory against France at the Millennium Stadium but their failure to win by more than 15 points means they will not improve their present ranking of 5th when the latest update is announced on Monday.
The top four sides in the rankings come December's draw are guaranteed to be kept apart in early stages of RWC'15 with the race for those places currently led by New Zealand with Australia and South Africa close behind.
However, there is still plenty of Test rugby to be played in the coming months with all the leading European sides heading to the southern hemisphere this summer for extended tours where they will hope to boost their ranking. Wales are set to renew their rivalry with Australia, England head to South Africa while Ireland, poised to drop to 8th in the ranking, will tackle New Zealand.
Rugby World Cup finalists France, who are scheduled to meet Argentina in June, are set to slip to 6th in the latest rankings having started the year in 4th but Scotland are poised for a more alarming slide to an all-time low of 12th in the wake of their 13-6 loss to Italy that ensured the Scots would prop up the Six Nations table.
Italy's win means they will move into eleventh with Samoa and Tonga occupying 10th and ninth place respectively. Any team outside the top eight in the rankings can expect to be grouped with two of the world's strongest sides at the sport's next global showpiece.
Expected IRB rankings:
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points
The latest Week in Pictures brings you a selection of the best snaps from around the rugby world with scantily clad ladies, O'Driscoll and snow all featuring
"If I miss the first kick of the match, it shouldn't have any impact on the second. They are different entities." Tom Hamilton talks to Northampton Saints' Stephen Myler
It's time for those running Welsh rugby to stop trying to prevent its players heading to France and to start planning a future without them, writes Martin Williamson