Stage set for latest rankings battle
November 14, 2012
France upset Australia and the rankings last weekend to climb into the top four © PA Photos
England will go into their clash with Australia on Saturday knowing that a big victory could propel them into third place in the International Rugby Board rankings and put them on course for a favourable World Cup pool draw.
The top four sides in the ranking - currently New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and France - following the completion of the end of year internationals will be kept apart in the pool stages of the sport's next showpiece event with the draw scheduled for December 3 in London.
France climbed above England into fourth thanks to their comprehensive 33-6 victory over higher-ranked Australia in Paris on Saturday night. But a similar victory for England over the Wallabies at Twickenham this weekend could see Stuart Lancaster's side rise to third place in the rankings if France were to be beaten by Argentina.
A victory for both England and France would see Australia slip out of the top four and should they fail to regain their place, with further games scheduled against Italy and Wales, they face the prospect of being pooled with one of the top four at RWC'15.
An equally intriguing battle is being played out to secure a place within the second group of seeds, those placed 5th-8th, with any side falling out of that bracket set to face two of the sides above them in pool play at the 2015 tournament.
England, Wales, Argentina and Ireland currently occupy those spots but with only an Ireland XV taking on Fiji, a non-Test game that will therefore not count towards ranking points, 9th placed Scotland have a chance to usurp their celtic rivals. Any kind of victory for the Scots over South Africa at Murrayfield on Saturday will see them climb above Ireland with a winning margin of more than 15 points providing the biggest possible boost.
If the Pool Allocation Draw was to happen today (14 November), the bands would be as follows:
Band 1: New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, France
Eleven of the 12 automatically qualified teams are in action this weekend, with only Ireland not playing a full international.
How this weekend's results could affect the automatically qualified teams' ratings points:
Wales v Samoa, Cardiff
England v Australia, Twickenham
Scotland v South Africa, Murrayfield
Italy v New Zealand, Rome
Tonga v USA, Colwyn Bay
France v Argentina, Lille
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies
Tom Hamilton runs the rule over just where the six countries stand ahead of the global gathering in September