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South Africa can jump Ireland in World Rugby rankings over weekend

By Ned Lester
Eben Etzebeth of South Africa leads his side from the pitch as they are applauded by the irish team after the Bank of Ireland Nations Series match between Ireland and South Africa at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

There are just two weeks of tests to be played before the Rugby World Cup kicks off in France and still plenty of changes can be made in the World Rugby international men’s rankings.

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The weekend’s slate of games sees tier-one nations from the southern and northern hemispheres clash for the first time since last year’s End of Year tours, amongst other mouth-watering fixtures.

South Africa will face Wales in Cardiff, while France host Fiji, Italy host Romania and England travel to Dublin to square off with World No 1 ranked Ireland.

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That top spot on the rankings is not guaranteed for Andy Farrell’s men though with no points on offer for a win but the potential to drop as low as fourth with a loss.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
1
Draws
0
Wins
4
Average Points scored
17
33
First try wins
80%
Home team wins
60%

13 months atop the World Rugby rankings reflects the unbeaten run for Ireland but a loss would guarantee the team surrender their world-best rating to New Zealand while results elsewhere will determine whether France and/or South Africa also overtake the Irish.

Despite the potential jump in the standings, don’t expect many South African or New Zealand fans to be cheering the England side on in Dublin. The odds will also be against Steve Borthwick’s men as Ireland enjoy a 15-match winning record at their home fortress and have lost just two of their past 38 matches there.

England can only hope to get as high as fifth with a win.

France are in a similar position to Ireland in the sense they have no points reward on offer for a win but if the Springboks are to prevail in Cardiff, Siya Kolisi’s side will assume the position of third place, relegating the French to fourth.

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Wales face no consequence as far as the rankings are concerned for a loss to South Africa but can improve from tenth to eighth with a win or ninth if Fiji also claims victory.

The biggest winners from the coming weekend may just be the Flying Fijians.

A winning start to the year and to new head coach Simon Raiwalui’s tenure has Fiji sitting ninth on the rankings, with the potential to jump Australia to be the highest-ranked team in Pool C come World Cup time.

Fixture
Internationals
France
34 - 17
Full-time
Fiji
All Stats and Data

To achieve this, the Semi Radradra-led team would have to topple France, no mean feat but one the Fijians did accomplish the last time the two nations met in 2018.

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Les Bleus currently enjoy a record home-winning streak but the World Cup hosts have lost the services of the influential Romain Ntamack due to a knee injury in their latest win against Scotland.

An Italy win on its own won’t see Ange Capuozzo’s return rewarded on the rankings but a loss for Georgia would help the Italians move up to 12th.

Georgia play the USA who can overtake Uruguay and potentially Portugal with a win.

A Romanian win over Italy would only benefit the team’s rankings if the USA loses.

 

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J
Jon 1 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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