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2015 Rugby World Cup
France remain on course for top seeding
ESPN Staff
November 18, 2012
France's Vincent Clerc salutes supporters, France v Argentina, Lille-Grand-Stade, Lille, France, November 17, 2012
Two tries from winger Vincent Clerc ensured France beat Argentina on Saturday and cemented their place in the top four of the IRB rankings © Getty Images
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France cemented their place in the top four of the International Rugby Board rankings and boosted their chances of a favourable 2015 Rugby World Cup pool draw with their impressive 37-22 victory over Argentina on Saturday night.

Two tries from winger Vincent Clerc propelled the hosts to victory in Lille and their 17-point winning margin ensured they accrued the maximum boost to their rankings. Les Bleus entered the game already in possession of a top four spot thanks to their mauling of higher-ranked Australia last weekend but now have a bigger lead over fifth-placed England who were beaten 20-14 by a resurgent Wallabies side at Twickenham earlier in the day.

The top four sides in the ranking following the completion of the end of year internationals will be the top seeds for the pool draw and therefore be kept apart in the early stages of the competition that will be staged in England. The hosts' hopes of a preferable seeding took a hammer blow with defeat to Australia meaning they must upset South Africa or New Zealand in the coming weeks if they are to make a late rally.

A defeat for France against Samoa in their final outing of the year would also shake up the ranking and open the door for England. The Samoans upset the world order with a stunning 26-19 victory over Wales on Friday night that saw Wales' own hopes of a to four spot all but fade as they slumped to 8th place.

With clashes against No.1 ranked New Zealand and Australia still to come, the Six Nations champions are in real danger of slipping out of the second group of seeds - those placed 5th-8th - in a disastrous result that would see them pooled with two of the sides ranked above them in the 2015 tournament.

That fate is one that Scotland must get used to having gone down 21-10 to South Africa at Murrayfield. That defeat and Samoa's success leaves them ranked 10th with only a clash against Tonga to come meaning they have no chance of boosting their ranking sufficiently.

Samoa will have their eyes on a place in the top eight and a victory over France would see them become the first Tier 2 nation to achieve such a feat and secure a better seeding for the pool draw. It is not a fact lost on France coach Philippe Saint-Andre who is wary of the challenge that lies ahead of them.

"I told the guys that now, the toughest was ahead of us against Samoa," he said following their victory over the Pumas. "I have to congratulate my squad tonight but we have to stay humble because the giantkillers are coming at the Stade de France. Last night, after I watched Wales versus Samoa, I did not sleep very well -- and it was not because of today's game."

Ireland remain ranked in 7th place due to the fact that it was and Ireland XV that crushed Fiji 53-0 in Limerick and therefore it was not a Test match counting towards their ranking. The Irish return to Test action next weekend against Argentina in a clash that will go a long way to deciding each side's seeding for the pool draw.

The latest rankings will be confirmed on Monday with the following figures produced using data provided by the IRB ahead of the latest international action.

International Rugby Board Ranking:
1. New Zealand 92.91
2. South Africa 86.05
3. Australia 85.94
4. France 84.99
5. England 81.96
6. Argentina 79.89
7. Ireland 79.04
8. Wales 78.95
9. Samoa 78.79
10. Scotland 77.42
11. Italy 76.61
12. Tonga 74.51

If the Pool Allocation Draw was to happen today, the bands would be as follows:

Band 1: New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, France
Band 2: England, Argentina, Ireland, Wales
Band 3: Samoa, Scotland, Italy, Tonga
Band 4: Oceania 1, Europe 1, Asia 1, Americas 1
Band 5: Africa 1, Europe 2, Americas 2, Repechage winner

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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