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The World Rugby rankings permutations as top side face record fall

By Ian Cameron
South Africa's players take part in a training session at Fauvettes Stadium, in Domont, north of Paris, on September 19, 2023, as part of the France 2023 Rugby World Cup. South Africa Springboks will meet Ireland for their next pool B match of the 2023 World Cup. (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP) (Photo by JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s all the play for this weekend on the World Rugby rankings table, with all eyes on Paris as current No.1s Ireland take on South Africa at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis this Saturday in a truly titanic clash in Pool B of the Rugby World Cup.


The outcome of this showdown could potentially reshape the World Rugby rankings, with Ireland defending their coveted number-one spot against the surging Springboks.

Ireland, who have enjoyed a 14-month reign at the top of the rankings, will lose the top spot should the Springboks emerge victorious.

Ireland’s reign would not only come to an end, but they would likely drop to the third position, displaced by a resurgent France side should Les Bleus beat Namibia in Pool A.

Even if France, as the hosts of Rugby World Cup 2023, secure a win over Namibia in their Pool A encounter in Marseille, they will not be able to enhance their rating due to the substantial 28.98 rating points that separate the two teams.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for Ireland. A draw against South Africa would allow them to retain their top-ranking, albeit with a slim margin of just 0.09 rating points. Conversely, if Ireland manages to secure a win by a margin exceeding 15 points, they could extend their lead over South Africa by as much as 6.05 rating points.

The rankings drama doesn’t end there. If France are handed an improbable defeat, they could potentially drop below New Zealand, who aren’t in action this weekend, falling to the fourth spot. However, it’s worth noting that France’s lowest possible position remains fourth.


In other matches, England and Scotland would maintain their rankings with victories over Chile and Tonga, respectively, as their ratings significantly outpace those of their opponents.

Should Wales and Australia play to a draw, their Pool C rivals Fiji will ascend one spot, matching their highest-ever ranking at seventh, at the expense of the Welsh. Fiji’s potential for further gains hinges on the outcomes of other matches, including potential upsets involving England and Scotland.

Australia faces the possibility of plummeting to a new low of 10th place if they falter against Wales and Argentina secures a victory against Samoa. Conversely, a win for the Wallabies, combined with unexpected losses for England and Scotland, could see them climb as high as fifth in the rankings.


In the lower ranks, Samoa’s fate is also up in the air, with the potential to rise to ninth if they win but to drop to 13th if they suffer defeat against Argentina. Portugal and Georgia, too, are set to engage in a rankings tussle, with Portugal seeking to surpass their rivals for the first time in nearly two decades.

With the Rugby World Cup 2023 in full swing, fans across the globe are glued to their screens, eagerly watching how the rankings may shift by the end of this exhilarating weekend of rugby action. The battle for supremacy is on, and the rugby world is poised for thrilling twists and turns on the path to glory.



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