Saturday, February 4, 2012

IRB World Rankings matter more now than ever

World Cup 2011 Draw
Today marks the start of the countdown to Rugby World Cup 2015 as four teams who have already qualified for the tournament will be in action on the opening day of the 2012 Six Nations Championship. The championship is Europe´s biggest with the winner being able to claim to be the best from the old continent for twelve months. This years competition has a lot more than pride running on it, however, as the twelve teams who automatically qualified for England 2015 will be seeded into three groups of four according to their IRB World Rankings following the completion of the November series in which teams from outside of Europe will all play three or more internationals. 

It was the same in 2008 when the top four teams in the World Rankings following the completion of the autumn internationals were New Zealand, Argentina, Australia and South Africa, though not in this order. The draw thus had the four separated into a different pool each. The second band were the sides ranked 5th to 8th at the time which saw France, England, Ireland and Wales join them after being drawn at random. Lastly, Tonga, Scotland, Italy and Fiji joined them as the lowest ranked teams who qualified automatically after finishing in the top three of their pool. In the case of Fiji and Scotland both were Quarter Finalists in 2007 but had dropped below Ireland and Wales who were eliminated at the pool stage.

If the current World Rankigns remain the come November New Zealand, Australia, France and South Africa would be draw into separate pools as the top ranked band. Band two would consist of 2015 hosts England plus Ireland, Argentina and Wales. Tonga, Samoa, Scotland and Italy would make up band three. There is a lot to play for this year with France possibly having the most on the line as if les Bleus can win enough matches to remain at fourth place or rise higher then they will not face any of New Zealand, South Africa or Australia at the group stage in England 2015. That is, unless one of the three Southern sides were to drop outside of the top four.
Samoa and Tonga have the smallest chance of rising as they are not goint to play as many matches and, crucially, will play fewer against higher ranked sides. Should Argentina have a successful start to The Rugby Championship then the South Americans have a strong chance of rising to the first band given that the top three are the other three in the tournament. Similarly, if Italy can perform well then the Italians are likely to rise a band. Intereestingly, if France win vs Italy today it will have no impact on France´s ranking as France is currently ranked with 84.70 points - 10.71 rating points more than Italy. The gap os so big that a win will not impact France at all. A loss, in contrast, would see France drop to fifth or sven sixth if England were to defeat Scotland and Wales defeat Ireland both by over 15 points. A tough ask since both are away matches. Should Scotland lose to England then Scotland would fall behind Samoa into 11th place. 

Outside of the Six Nations there are also other teams who will be in action and, indeed, have IRB World Rankings on the line. Georgia are to face Ukraine in an away latter on today and should Georgia win big, as expected, the Lelos will rise to 14th in the world. A similar scenario exists for Romania with the Eastern Europeans facing Portugal. If Romania lose they will drop down the rankings.
Source: IRB


  1. This is why a think people make too much about experimenting and "building" for 2015

    the winner of the 6 Nations is likely to be in the top tier

    if Argentina field an understrength side against Italy and lose then they will likely lose their place in the second tier

    I don't like this "building" for 2015 crap, RWC runners up France changed their team so much they hardly built anything, Wales found their fly half because Stephen Jones pulled out during the warm up for the Warm Up match against England, New Zealand ended up on their fourth choice fly half

    building is nonsense, just play the best team for each match!

    1. It was pushed by Australia and New Zealand as a means of ending the sending of weak sides down under for the June tours. It means the year after the World Cup can no longer be used to blood fresh players. Teams need to win as many games as they can.

      Good point about the building for 2015 suggestion. Sometimes no building is needed as good young players, like Priestland, pop up at the right time. Then again, France with no depth in the secondrow altogether may have to ditch Nallet soon as he is 35 and there are no replacements in the Top 14 at the moment.

  2. Typical lobbying by SANZAR.