A busy weekend of international matches could have a significant impact on the men’s and women’s World Rugby Rankings as Spain look to reach a record high of 15.
With rankings places determining the seeding for the Rugby World Cup 2023 draw which takes place in November, France, Wales and Ireland could make gains in the men’s rankings, while in the women’s rankings, Ireland, Scotland and Wales could end the weekend with an improved ranking.
Defending Six Nations champions Wales may have seen their eight-match unbeaten run in the tournament come to an end with defeat in Dublin a fortnight ago, but victory over France could see them finish the weekend in the top bands of seeds, in fourth, if the margin of victory is sufficiently big and Ireland lose to England.
As well as keeping their own Grand Slam dreams alive, a win for France at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff would see Les Bleus overtake Wales in the rankings, while Italy can reclaim 12th place from Georgia and condemn Scotland to 10th – their lowest position for four years – if they manage to put their five-year losing run in the Championship to bed.
In the Rugby Europe Championship, Spain have an outside chance of climbing to their highest-ever ranking of 15th with victory in Romania, while Russia could be heading in the other direction and plummet to the new depths of 27th if results go against them.
All three of this weekend’s Women’s Six Nations matches fall on Sunday with England’s top-of-the-table encounter with Ireland at a sold-out Castle Park in Doncaster the pick of the round three fixtures.
Scotland will seek a first win in two decades in Italy with their last victory going back to 1999 when they won 43-15. Should they win by a 15-point margin, they will overtake Spain and move into the top 10 for the first time in their history. It won’t be an easy task as Italy are unbeaten at home for seven games and Scotland have lost their last eight matches in the competition.
Another challenge awaits Ireland who have never won on English soil in 15 previous attempts. A draw would be enough to lift them to eighth if Wales fail to beat France. France will remain fourth if they lose but Wales will drop to ninth with defeat or if Ireland match their margin of victory.
WORLD RUGBY RANKINGS PERMUTATIONS
Men’s Six Nations: 22-23 February
ITALY (13) v SCOTLAND (9)
Scotland have won the last seven meetings since Italy’s 22-19 win at Murrayfield in February 2015
Italy will fall below Tonga with a home defeat but can drop no lower than 14th
The Azzurri will return to 12th place – at Georgia’s expense – if they win
Scotland must win by more than 15 points to climb above Japan into eighth place
Anything but a win will see Scotland drop below Argentina to occupy their lowest position since February 2016
WALES (5) v FRANCE (6)
France have won only one of their last nine meetings with Wales, 20-18 at Stade de France in 2017
Their last victory on Welsh soil was 26-20 on 26 February, 2010
France will drop below Australia in defeat
Wales will return to the top band of seeds for the RWC 2023 pool draw if they win by more than 15 points and Ireland lose at Twickenham
A smaller margin of victory will see the same outcome if Ireland lose by more than 15 points at Twickenham
France will be the higher-ranked of the two teams if they win
France will close to within a fraction under a tenth of a point of the top band of seeds if they win by more than 15 points and Ireland lose by the same margin
ENGLAND (3) v IRELAND (4)
- Victory for Ireland would be their 50th test win over England
- England cannot climb any higher than third because they will still trail New Zealand by 3.63 rating points even with an emphatic victory
- Ireland will be the higher ranked of the nations in victory
- England can fall no lower than fourth, even if they lose by more than 15 points and Wales beat France by the same margin
Rugby Europe Championship: 22-23 February
ROMANIA (19) v SPAIN (16)
Spain have won the last two meetings between the sides with three of their four victories coming in the last eight years
Spain will slip below USA and Uruguay in defeat
Spain could climb to a new high of 15th but this would require Los Leones to win by more than 15 points and Georgia to lose by the same margin to Belgium
Romania cannot improve their position but a victory by more than 15 points would leave them just 11 hundredths behind Spain
Romania can only fall from 19th if they lose by more than 15 points and Portugal beat Russia by a similar margin, in which case the teams would trade places
GEORGIA (12) v BELGIUM (27)
- Georgia have scored 30 or more points in their last four meetings with Belgium
- Georgia cannot improve their rating as a result of the 15.13 points difference to Belgium before home weighting is factored in
- Georgia could win and still drop below Italy, if the Azzurri avoid defeat at home against Scotland
- A first ever defeat for Georgia at the hands of Belgium would see them fall three places – four if they lose by more than 15 points and Spain win by the same margin
- Belgium will remain 27th in defeat but will climb at least one place in victory
RUSSIA (25) v PORTUGAL (20)
- Russia have won the last six meetings between the sides, dating back to Portugal’s 21-19 win in Sochi in February 2011
- Russia will fall below Brazil in defeat – equalling their lowest ever ranking of 26th which they last occupied in November 2005
- The Bears will drop to a new low of 27th if that defeat is combined with a first Belgium victory over Georgia
- Portugal can only improve their rating if they win by more than 15 points and Romania lose by the same margin
- Russia will climb one place with victory and could regain all five of the places they lost after a heavy loss to Belgium if they win by more than 15 points
- Portugal will retain 20th place in defeat provided it is by 15 points or less. A greater margin will see Os Lobos drop four places to 24th
Women’s Six Nations: 23 February
WALES (8) v FRANCE (4)
- Wales have won only one of their last 12 meetings with France, 10-8 in Neath in February 2016
- France cannot improve their position with victory, while Wales only can if they win by more than 15 points and Italy lose by the same margin to Scotland
- France will remain fourth if they lose as they have a 6.7 rating point cushion over Italy, but Wales will drop to ninth with defeat or if Ireland match their margin of victory
ENGLAND (2) v IRELAND (9)
- England cannot improve their rating with victory due to the near 20-point difference between the teams before home weighting is factored in
- A draw for Ireland would be enough to lift them to eighth if Wales fail to beat France
- If Wales win then Ireland will still climb above them if they are victorious by the same margin
ITALY (5) v SCOTLAND (11)
- With nearly 10 points between the teams before home weighting is factored in, Italy cannot improve their rating with victory
- Italy will drop below Australia if they draw – and also USA if Scotland win
- Italy could actually fall three places to ninth, but this would require them to lose by more than 15 points and Wales to win by the same margin
- Scotland must win by more than 15 points to overtake Spain and move into the top 10 for the first time