Ireland Rugby: With France, South Africa, and New Zealand all aiming to dethrone Ireland from their lofty position any of the current top four countries might conclude the weekend in the first place.
The Autumn Nations Series resumes with another set of tantalizing fixtures on Saturday and Sunday following a dramatic final round of games.
The World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini had a significant upheaval last weekend, with six of the Top 10 teams moving up or down thanks to Argentina’s unexpected 30-29 victory against England.
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Additionally, the results of this weekend’s games could have a significant impact on the rankings, particularly at the top, where up to four teams are vying to be named the greatest in the world.
Ireland now holds that prestigious position and they will continue to do so if they defeat Fiji in Dublin in the first Saturday game and win five straight tests.
France, South Africa, and New Zealand will be prepared to take advantage if Ireland falters and makes a mistake, as they so nearly did when Fiji was last in town in 2017.
History-making Les Bleus
If Ireland fails to defeat Fiji and France wins against South Africa to extend their record winning streak to 12 games, Les Bleus will move up to the top of the rankings for the first time since their introduction in October 2003, becoming the sixth country to hold that position.
History, however, suggests that France will have their work cut out for them because South Africa has won on each of their previous three trips to the Stade de France, and they have won nine straight games with Saturday’s referee Wayne Barnes in charge of the game.
South Africa, the current world champions, would return to the top spot if their victory is followed by an Irish loss or tie if they continue this trend and recover from their 19-16 defeat to Ireland last weekend.
If they defeat Scotland at Murrayfield, Ireland loses, and the match between France and South Africa ends in a draw, New Zealand may also take the top spot for the first time since the Rugby World Cup 2019.
Even if both teams lose this weekend—the result of them losing to a higher-ranked team—South Africa will reclaim the third spot they lost to New Zealand last weekend.
Even though England’s Autumn Nations Series 2022 campaign got off to a poor start against Argentina at home, they were still in fifth place overall.
However, if other results go against them and the distance between the teams at Twickenham is wide, a second straight loss, against the lower-ranked Japan, could send them plummeting by as many as three places.
On the other hand, Scotland would move up two spots to sixth if they managed to defeat the All Blacks for the first time ever.
Wales must defeat Argentina by more than 15 points in Cardiff to surpass the visitors and regain some of the ground they lost in the rankings after their lopsided loss to New Zealand. Argentina might advance to fifth place.
If victory over England is followed by another away victory in Cardiff, Japan will swap places with Wales in ninth.
Big weekend for Wallabies
It has been a tense fortnight for Australian fans as they witnessed their team come out on each side of one-point scorelines in their opening two matches of the Autumn Nations Series.
After defeating France 30-29 and defeating Scotland 16-15, the Wallabies’ next test match is against Italy, a team they have never lost to in a test match.
The Wallabies might move up to fifth place if they keep up that record this weekend with a convincing victory and unexpected outcomes occur elsewhere.
A heavy loss, Japan and Scotland winning handily against England and New Zealand, respectively, and a draw between Wales and Argentina, as they did in July 2021, would also cause them to drop to a record-low ranking of 10.
Italy may receive a higher ranking of 11th as compensation for ending their winless streak against Australia.
There are still many games being played around the world as teams continue their preparations for Rugby World Cup 2023, or as in the case of the USA, Portugal, Hong Kong, and Kenya, attempt to get there through the Final Qualification Tournament, even though that concludes the next round of fixtures in the Autumn Nations Series.
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Fiji’s inability to advance up the rankings past 11th, even if they storm Ireland’s fortress of the Aviva Stadium and become one of the very few teams to win there since Andy Farrell took over as head coach, creates an opportunity for teams immediately below them to gain an advantage.
For instance, if Italy and Georgia win their respective matches against Australia and Samoa, they will both surpass a defeated Fiji.
Samoa will pass Georgia if they win their match against the Lelos in Tbilisi and could move up three spots to 11th if both Fiji and Italy lose.
Triumf over adversity
Romania and Uruguay are reuniting in Bucharest at the Stadionul National Arcul de Triumf after their series in Montevideo finished 1-1 in July.
If both sides win their respective matches against Uruguay and Namibia, Romania will move up one spot to 16th and switch places with Spain.
If Los Teros win in Bucharest and avoid losing, they will move up above the Oaks and could even reach the 15th spot depending on other outcomes.
The match between Tonga and Chile will also take place at Romania’s national rugby stadium, and the outcome may have an impact on the rankings.
If Uruguay loses in Romania, they will fall behind Portugal and the United States if those teams win their second RWC 2023 Final Qualification Tournament games in Dubai, as is widely predicted they will.
Due to the 13.47 rating points that separate the two teams, Portugal’s victory over Kenya cannot raise their rating. As a result, the USA will retake 19th place from Os Lobos if they defeat Hong Kong by more than 15 points.
However, if that result was reversed, the Eagles would be placed outside the Top 20, which is also unprecedented, and Hong Kong would be ranked higher than the United States.
By the time Scotland and New Zealand put an end to an action-packed weekend at Murrayfield late on Sunday afternoon, the rankings might look very different because Spain is also hosting Namibia, the Oceania Rugby Championship is coming to an end in Papua New Guinea, and there are a number of other matches.
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