|World Cup 2011 Draw|
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.