World Rugby Rankings: Who will start Rugby World Cup 2019 as world number one?

Ireland can climb to number one with a win over Wales Wales needs a 15-point margin victory if they are to regain top spot Japan can maintain their 100% record against the Springboks Both Japan and South Africa are unbeaten in 2019 Scotland aim for 300th victory on a first-ever Friday fixture

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March 1st, 2019. Victoria, BC - Argentina XV team claims the 2019 ARC Rugby Championship with bonus point win over Canada - Erich Eichhorn image ( www.allsportmedia.ca )

Several teams have the chance for one last preparation match this weekend ahead of Rugby World Cup 2019, which kicks-off in Tokyo on 20 September. The warm-up matches include a “Miracle of Brighton” rematch between Japan and South Africa, and a decisive game for top spot between Ireland and Wales.

One of the most memorable matches in Rugby World Cup history is re-enacted in Kumagaya City as 2019 hosts Japan take on two-time winners South Africa, who they famously defeated at the last tournament in England to fuel an upsurge in the sport’s popularity in Asia.

The match at the 26,500-capacity Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, one of the venues for Rugby World Cup 2019, brings together two in-form teams who have both won silverware in the past month, Japan claiming their third World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup title to equal their highest position in the rankings of ninth, while the Springboks claimed the Rugby Championship trophy.

Wary of coming unstuck at the hands of the Brave Blossoms for a second time, Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus has insisted there will be no sense of complacency and has named what appears to be his strongest XV, while Japan will also be going at the match full tilt in a bid to enter their home tournament on a high.

Today marks two weeks to go until Rugby World Cup 2019 kicks off and as well as Japan’s match with South Africa, Scotland will be looking to secure back-to-back wins against Georgia at Murrayfield, following on from their emphatic victory seven days ago in Tbilisi, while England face Italy at St James’ Park in Newcastle.

On Saturday, Ireland take on Wales for the second weekend in a row with both teams knowing they’re in with a chance of overhauling New Zealand at the top of the World Rugby Men’s Rankings. New Zealand are also in action, at home to Tonga in Hamilton, while Canada and the USA renew their rivalry in Vancouver and Australia play Samoa in Sydney.

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JAPAN (10) v SOUTH AFRICA (5)

In brief

  • Japan have a 100 per cent record against South Africa, having famously won the only meeting between the teams, 34-32, in Brighton during Rugby World Cup 2015
  • Japan are unbeaten this year with wins against Fiji, Tonga and the USA
  • South Africa are also unbeaten this year, having beaten Australia and Argentina (twice) and drawn 16-16 with the All Blacks

Rankings predictor

  • South Africa will swap places with Wales if they win and the Welsh lose by more than 15 points to Ireland
  • Second place is possible for South Africa, but this also needs England to lose to Italy and New Zealand to lose to Tonga by more than 15 points
  • The Springboks cannot fall any lower than their current position of fifth
  • Japan will climb above Fiji if they beat South Africa
  • A Japanese win by more than 15 points, combined with defeat for Scotland against Georgia, would lift the Brave Blossoms to an all-time high of eighth
  • Eighth is also possible if Japan win by a smaller margin so long as Scotland lose by more than 15 points

 

SCOTLAND (7) v GEORGIA (12)

In brief

  • Scotland are playing at Murrayfield for the first time on a Friday outside of a Rugby World Cup
  • Scotland have won all three previous encounters with Georgia by an average of just over 23 points
  • If Scotland win it will be their 300th test victory
  • The 44-10 defeat to Scotland ended Georgia’s seven-match winning run

Rankings predictor

  • Scotland cannot climb any higher than their present position of seventh
  • They will, though, drop below France if Georgia avenge last weekend’s defeat
  • If they lose by more than 15 points – or Japan beat South Africa by that margin – then Scotland will fall to ninth
  • Georgia must win by more than 15 points to climb above Argentina
  • The Lelos will be overtaken by Italy if they lose and the Azzurri beat England

 

ENGLAND (3) v ITALY (13)

In brief

  • Played at Newcastle United Football Club’s iconic St James’ Park, the match with Italy is the first featuring England to have taken place outside of Twickenham in the country since the RWC 2015 pool fixture against Uruguay, which was held at the City of Manchester Stadium
  • England have never lost to Italy in 25 previous tests
  • England’s average winning margin is 28 points
  • Italy have only led twice at half-time, most recently at Twickenham in 2017 (10-5)

Rankings predictor

  • A victorious England can only move up to second if both Ireland and New Zealand lose
  • England will swap places again with South Africa if they lose and the Springboks avoid defeat against Japan
  • Italy will replace Georgia in 12th if they win and the Lelos lose to Scotland
  • Wins for USA and Tonga would see a beaten Italy slip down the rankings to 15th
  • Combine the above with a Samoan victory by more than 15 points and the Azzurri would fall to their lowest ever ranking of 16th

NEW ZEALAND (1) v TONGA (15)

In brief

  • The All Blacks have played Tonga on five occasions – four of which have been at the Rugby World Cup, and have won them all
  • New Zealand have played Tonga twice in New Zealand, once in 2000 and again at Rugby World Cup 2011
  • Samuel Whitelock will become the joint fifth most capped All Black this weekend, drawing level with Dan Carter’s 112 tests

Rankings predictor

  • Four of the five previous meetings between the sides have been at Rugby World Cups
  • New Zealand cannot improve their rating with victory over Tonga – meaning they will lose top spot if Ireland win or Wales triumph by more than 15 points in Dublin
  • New Zealand could drop as low as fifth if they lose by more than 15 points and other results go against them
  • In this scenario, Tonga can climb as high as 12th
  • Tonga can fall one place in defeat, but only if Samoa beat Australia

AUSTRALIA (6) v SAMOA (16)

In brief

  • Saturday’s test at Bankwest Stadium will be just the sixth match between the two proud rugby nations, and the first meeting since Samoa’s shock 32-23 in at ANZ Stadium in 2011
  • That was Samoa’s first and only win over the Wallabies in the five meetings to date

Rankings predictor

  • Australia cannot improve their rating or position even with an emphatic victory
  • Samoa cannot climb the rankings with a narrow victory unless the teams above them lose
  • Samoa could gain as many as three places and move up to 13th – their highest position for more than four years – but it would need a weekend of upsets for that to happen

IRELAND (2) v WALES (4)

In brief

  • Wales leads the head-to-head 69-52 with seven draws
  • Ireland ended Wales’ 11-match home winning run with a 22-17 win at the Principality Stadium last week
  • Wales have only scored over 25 points on one occasion this year (26 v Italy)
  • Likewise, Ireland have yet to breach the 30-point barrier in 2019
  • Ireland have yet to concede a yellow card all year, while Leon Brown’s sin-binning last week was Wales’ first of 2019

Rankings predictor

  • With New Zealand unable to improve their rating with victory over Tonga, Ireland can climb to the top for first time if they beat Wales
  • A draw would be enough to do this if New Zealand fail to beat Tonga
  • Wales would drop to fifth in defeat if South Africa win by more than 15 points – unless England lose to Italy
  • Wales will climb to second in victory or return to top spot if they win by more than 15
  • The sides will swap places if Wales win and New Zealand, England and South Africa also triumph by less than 15 points
  • Ireland will drop to fifth if they lose by more than 15 points and South Africa and England both win

CANADA (21) v USA (14)

In brief

  • USA and Canada have met 62 times in history. The Eagles have won 22 times, the Canadians 38 and two matches have resulted in a draw
  • The Eagles will face Canada for the third time this calendar year, having won their first meeting in the Americas Rugby Championship 30-25 in March and then 47-19 in the Pacific Nations Cup in July

Rankings predictor

  • USA will climb one place if they win and Italy lose to England
  • USA will drop below Tonga if they lose to Canada, even if the ‘Ikale Tahi are also beaten
  • If Samoa also stun Australia then USA will drop another place to 16th
  • Canada will fall one place in defeat, two if by more than 15 points which would mean they enter RWC 2019 as the lowest ranked of the 20 teams
  • Canada cannot catch Russia above even if they triumph by more than 15 points
  • The World Rugby Men’s Rankings will update at 12:00 Dublin time on Monday
The World Rugby Men’s Rankings will update at 12:00 Dublin time on Monday

Explanation of the World Rugby Rankings system >>