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Rugby Championship results could see England fall to record ranking low

By Ian Cameron
VERONA, ITALY - JULY 11: (R-L), Steve Borthwick, the England head coach, Kevin Sinfield, defence coach, Richard Wiggleswoth attack coach and Aled Walters, the head of strength and conditioning gather during the England training session held at the Payanini Center on July 11, 2023 in Verona, Italy. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

England’s position in the World Rugby ranking hangs in the balance following this weekend’s Rugby Championship matches, with the possibility of the team slipping down to a record low.

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World Rugby has unveiled the ranking permutations for the second round of The Rugby Championship 2023, shedding light on the potential changes in the rankings.

The permutations reveal that if New Zealand manages to secure a victory by a margin of more than 15 points, they will surpass France and claim the second spot. Additionally, this win would narrow the gap between New Zealand and Ireland to a mere 1.19 points at the top of the rankings.

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South Africa, currently sitting in fourth place, is not in immediate danger of falling lower in defeat. Even with a loss, they would maintain a comfortable cushion of at least 5.26 rating points over Scotland, who are ranked below them. However, if South Africa manages to avoid defeat in their match against the All Blacks in Auckland, they will trade places with New Zealand and ascend to third place, becoming the higher-ranked nation of the two.

In the other Rugby Championship encounter this weekend, Argentina has the opportunity to climb up the rankings.

A victory over Australia by a margin exceeding 15 points would propel Los Pumas above England into the sixth position. This would mark their highest ranking since November of the previous year. Alternatively, a win of any margin for Australia would result in them leapfrogging England and securing sixth place for themselves.

England has not occupied a ranking as low as seventh since February 2016, the time leading up to Eddie Jones’ first game in charge post Stuart Lancaster. However, due to the various permutations at play this weekend, there is a possibility that Steve Borthwick’s team could slide down to that position.

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It should be noted that Argentina cannot fall any lower than their current position of eighth, as they hold a significant advantage over Wales in the rankings.

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Jon 2 hours ago
Sam Cane was unfairly cast in Richie McCaw's shadow for too long

> McCaw’s durability and sustained excellence were unique, but we seemed to believe his successors were cut from the same cloth. It’s easy to forget McCaw was just as heavily critiqued for the last two years of his career. The only real difference was his captaining criticisms and his playing criticisms happened at different times, where Cane was criticized for a few things in both areas for all of his last 4 years. This was also heavily influenced by another McCaw esque presence, in Ardie Savea, being in the team and pushed out of his original position. It could be said we essentially didn’t have the 3 prior years with Ardie as world player of the year because he was changing into this new role. I say “original” position as despite him never coming out and saying his desire is to perform his role from, that I know of, clearly as part of a partnership with Cane as 7, I don’t think this was because he really wanted Cane’s playing spot. I think it most likely that it comes down to poor All Black management that those sort of debates weren’t put to bed as being needless and irrelevant. It has been brought up many times in past few months of discussions on articles here at RP, that early calls in WC cycles, to say pigeonhole an All Black team into being required to have a physical dynamo on defence at 7 (and ballplyaer at 8 etc) are detrimental. In the end we did not even come up against a team that threw large bodies at us relentlessly, like why we encountered in the 2019 WC semi final, at all in this last WC. Even then they couldn’t see the real weakness was defending against dynamic attacks (which we didn’t want to/couldn’t give 2019 England credit for) like the Twickenham Boks, and Irish and French sides (even 10 minutes of an English onslaught) that plagued our record and aura the last 4 years. It really is a folly that is the All Blacks own creation, and I think it pure luck, and that Cane was also such a quality All Black, that he was also became an integral part of stopping the side from getting run off the park. Not just rampaged. > The hushed tones, the nods of approval, the continued promotion of this nonsense that these men are somehow supernatural beings. I bet this author was one of those criticizing Cane for coming out and speaking his mind in defence of his team that year. Despite the apparent hypocrisy I agree with the sentiment, but I can only see our last captain as going down the same road his two prior captains, Read and McCaw, have gone. I am really for Cane becoming an extra member to each squad this year, June, RC, and November tours, and he is really someone I can see being able to come back into the role after 3 seasons in Japan. As we saw last year, we would have killed for someone of his quality to have been available rather than calling on someone like Blackadder. Just like the Boks did for 2023.

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