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Four teams in contention for World Rugby No.1 rankings' spot

By Sam Smith
Cameron Woki is one of a breed of French world beaters who downed the All Blacks in November (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

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In a rare weekend in rugby union, four Test teams are in the running to pick up the World Rugby No.1 ranking.

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Depending on how things play out one of South Africa, New Zealand, France and Ireland could end the weekend as the number 1 one side in the world.

The Springboks are a little vulnerable, as they cannot improve their rating with victory over Wales due to the 11.33 rating points between the teams before home weighting is factored in.

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Dan Biggar talks about the ‘no fear’ factor in the Wales team
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Dan Biggar talks about the ‘no fear’ factor in the Wales team

If the Boks draw with Wayne Pivac’s Wales, then the All Blacks or Ireland must win by more than 15 points to assume the top rank. With that said, defeat for Jacques Nienaber’s men means that a smaller margin of victory will be sufficient for New Zealand or Ireland. The men in green will be the higher ranked of the two nations if they avoid defeat in New Zealand.

Ireland have only occupied top spot for two weeks – in September 2019 – since the rankings were introduced in October 2003.

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South Africa will drop to third in defeat if in tandem with a France victory in Japan and win for either New Zealand or Ireland. They could theretically even drop to fourth if the margin of defeat is more than 15 points and NZ and Ireland draw.

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The All Blacks could also facce a tumble. Ian Foster’s side can drop to their lowest ever ranking of fourth if they lose and France win.

If South Africa win, New Zealand will still gain one place with victory regardless of France’s result in Japan. Fabien Galthie’s France can top the rankings for the first time if they win, South Africa lose and it is a draw at Eden Park.

Australia will climb above England with victory in the opening test in Perth. Eddie Jones’ men can only improve on fifth place if they win by more than 15 points and France lose to Japan by the same margin.

Japan will climb above a beaten Wales into ninth if they beat France. The Brave Blossoms could climb another place to eighth if they win by more than 15 points, Wales are beaten and Scotland lose by the same margin in Argentina.

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Les Bleus will fall two places to fourth if they lose to Jamie Joseph’s side. They could drop another place if the margin of defeat for them and Australia against England is more than 15 points.

Meanwhile Wales will climb above a beaten Scotland if they can defeat South Africa in Pretoria. Gregor Townsend’s side could fall as low as 10th depending on margin of defeat and the results in South Africa and Japan.

In the Pacific Nations Cup, Fiji cannot improve their rating with victory over Tonga due to the 8.9 rating points between them before home weighting is factored in. Vern Cotter has named nine Fijian Drua players in the starting line-up, four of whom make their debuts in second-row Isoa Nasilasila, flanker Rusiate Nasova, winger Vinaya Habosi and centre Kalaveti Ravouvou, and a Tokyo Olympic gold medallist in winger Jiuta Wainiqolo.

Italy will climb above Samoa if they beat Romania with Manu Samoa’s match with Australia A in the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup not counting towards the rankings. Romania welcome back their 128-test veteran Florin Vlaicu, who last played for the Oaks in March 2021. Victor Leon makes his Romania debut, having previously played seven tests for Moldova.

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