France move into top four in rankings
November 12, 2012
France upset Austraila in Paris on Saturday night to climb in to the top four of the IRB rankings © PA Photos
France have edged nearer to securing a preferable 2015 Rugby World Cup pool draw by climbing into fourth place in the latest International Rugby Board rankings.
Les Bleus' comprehensive 33-6 victory over higher-ranked Australia in Paris on Saturday night was enough to lift the hosts above England and into one of the spots that will be rewarded with a top seeding for the eagerly-awaited World Cup draw that will take place in London on December 3.
The top four sides in the ranking following the completion of the end of year internationals will be kept apart in the pool stages of the sport's next showpiece event. The rankings will also determine the seeding for all 12 of the directly qualified teams for England 2015.
England dropped to 5th place despite their thumping 54-12 victory over Fiji at Twickenham due to the Islanders' inferior ranking. Should England, the hosts of the 2015 tournament, fail to regain their place among the elite then they face having to play one of the southern hemisphere giants or France in pool play of the competition.
However, the 3rd-placed Wallabies are now have less than a two-point lead over fifth-ranked England, their next opponents, and will be desperate to preserve their top four status with another ranking rival in the form of Wales set to welcome them to Cardiff in a couple of weeks' time.
England will have plenty of opportunities to reassert themselves in the coming weeks with Australia, South Africa and New Zealand all set to visit Twickenham. All three opponents will provide Stuart Lancaster's side with a chance to boost their position significantly given their rivals' current superior status and the method by which the rankings are calculated. France will be hoping to consolidate their position when they tackle Argentina and Samoa later this month.
South Africa are also on the up with their 16-12 victory over Ireland in Dublin combined with the Wallabies loss enough to see them climb to second place behind New Zealand who cemented top spot with a 51-22 win against Scotland.
Argentina were the other big movers thanks to their 26-12 upset of Wales. As a result the Pumas moved above Ireland into 7th spot to strengthen their chances of claiming a place in the second group of seeds - those placed 5th-8th - for the pool draw. Those sides will face just one of the sides ranked in the top four with any nation falling outside of that bracket destined to meet one team from both of the seeding brackets above them.
Scotland are currently ranked 9th and face the same uphill battle that the same ranking provided them with for the 2011 World Cup. On that occasion they found themselves grouped with England and Argentina and subsequently failed to reach the World Cup quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
International Rugby Board - World Rankings: (November 12)
As they stand, the Pool Allocation Draw seedings would be:
Band 1: New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, France
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"If England flounder in the next World Cup the knives will be out - six-year contract or not." Tom Hamilton on the new contract for the England coaches
With the deadline for World Cup ticket applications now over, Tom May outlines his hopes, gripes and wishes for next year's global gathering
Floundering Leicester, exquisite Exeter and two old England players tearing up trees - it's the Monday Maul
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship and all the domestic action from the northern hemisphere