Ireland faces a blockade of sorts in their bid to dethrone South Africa from the pinnacle of the World Rugby rankings.
Despite Ireland’s blockbuster 38-17 win over France in the opening weekend, a potential victory in their upcoming clash against Italy in this weekend’s Guinness Six Nations would bring no advancement on the rankings ladder.
The significant 16.52 rating point gap between the two teams prior to the consideration of home advantage ensures that Ireland’s position won’t budge. Andy Farrell’s men will continue to hold on to second spot unless they suffer a 15 points defeat. That scenario would elevate the All Blacks above them in the standings.
Even a decisive triumph over Scotland won’t be enough for France to climb above fourth due to the substantial distance separating them from New Zealand in third. Yet, the stakes are high for Les Bleus as a loss coupled with an English victory against Wales at Twickenham would demote them to fifth, making way for England to claim fourth.
A Scotland win and an English setback against Wales would propel Gregor Townsend’s squad to fifth. An emphatic victory exceeding 15 points paired with an English defeat could even secure Scotland an historic fourth-place ranking.
Meanwhile, Wales stands to gain from any victory margin over England, ensuring their ascent above Argentina into seventh.
Italy eyes a significant milestone; a draw in Dublin could catapult them back into the top 10 for the first time in over a decade. A win would further elevate their status to ninth.
Georgia, facing the Netherlands, finds themselves in a position where victory does not influence their 13th place due to a 17.44 point difference before home advantage is considered. However, a draw or a defeat could see them slip in the rankings, with potential implications for Samoa, Brazil, and even a three-place descent if the Netherlands secures a shock win.
Portugal, despite facing Poland, cannot improve their standings due to a 19.36 point difference, while Spain’s prospects remain unchanged against Germany. However, Romania has an opportunity to reclaim 19th place with a win over Belgium, emphasizing the fluid nature of international rugby rankings.
Belgium, too, has a chance to climb the World Rugby rankings following a recent victory over Portugal.