Important World Rugby rankings points will be contested during the second weekend of fixtures in the Guinness Six Nations and Rugby Europe Championship.

For the men’s teams taking part in the Six Nations, the World Rugby Rankings carry extra significance as they will be used to determine the bands when the Rugby World Cup 2023 Pool Draw takes place in November 2020.

With the best four ranked teams being placed in the first band, the battle is already hotting up as Wales and Ireland could both replace England as the highest-ranked men’s northern hemisphere team this weekend.

Wales go in search of what would be their record-equalling eighth consecutive win in the Championship when they take on Ireland in the opening match of round two of the Six Nations, knowing that victory at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin could also see them finish the weekend above their European rivals in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings.

For Ireland, third place is also possible, but England will be doing all they can to hang onto their position behind South Africa and New Zealand by winning back control of the Calcutta Cup. Eddie Jones’ side, showing five changes to the line-up that lost to France in round one, meet Scotland in the second of the Saturday kick-offs in what is sure to be a partisan atmosphere at Murrayfield.

Scotland are also looking to bounce back from a loss after their 19-12 defeat to Ireland in Dublin last weekend, while on Sunday it is the turn of France and Italy, teams who enjoyed contrasting fortunes in round one.

Elsewhere Spain and Portugal could be celebrating significant World Rugby rankings milestones if results go their way in the Rugby Europe Championship.


Meanwhile following a compelling opening round of matches in which the average winning margin was a mere 4.7 points, the Women’s Six Nations continues this weekend with one match on Saturday and two on Sunday.

France and Italy kick-off the round at Stade Beaublanc in Limoges with Les Bleues hoping to bounce back from their defeat to England, while Italy go in search of a second consecutive victory following their 19-15 win over Wales in Cardiff.

Defending Grand Slam champions England will be fancied to make it eight Women’s Six Nations wins on the bounce when they take on 2019 wooden spoon recipients Scotland at Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow in the first of the Sunday fixtures. A rare win for Scotland could see them make rankings history with entry into the top ten.

In the other encounter, Ireland have a chance to avenge last year’s 24-5 loss to Wales when the sides meet at Donnybrook in Dublin.


Men’s Six Nations: 8-9 February
IRELAND (5) v WALES (4) (Saturday)

Played: 129 – Wales leads 69-53 with seven draws
Points for: Ireland 1,475 / Wales 1,578
Average score: Ireland 11-12 Wales
First meeting: 28 January, 1882 – Ireland 0-0 Wales* – Lansdowne Road, Dublin
Last meeting: 7 September, 2019 – Ireland 19-10 Wales – Aviva Stadium, Dublin
*Wales won by two goals
In brief

  • Wales have won their last eight matches in the Six Nations. Victory against Ireland would see them equal their best winning run in the history of the Five or Six Nations, which they set between 1970-73 (eight wins)
  • Wales have won away in Ireland three times in the Six Nations (2000, 2008 and 2012), each of them by a margin of four points or fewer
  • The home team has won just eight of the last 17 games in this match-up over the course of the past decade
  • The top three leading points scorers in the opening round were either Irish or Welsh, as Johnny Sexton (19), Josh Adams (15) and Dan Biggar (13) were the only players to score more than 12 points
  • Ireland won 17 turnovers in last year’s Championship, they managed 10 in last weekend’s win over Scotland alone – twice as many as any other side in round one

Rankings predictor

  • Whoever wins will be the higher ranked of the two teams
  • Ireland cannot fall from fifth place even if they lose by more than 15 points as France are unable to improve their rating by beating Italy
  • Wales will climb one place to third if they win and England lose to Scotland
  • Ireland can also occupy third spot if they beat Wales and England lose by more than 15 points

SCOTLAND (9) v ENGLAND (3) (Saturday)

Played: 137 – England leads 75-43 with 19 draws
Points for: Scotland 1,225 / England 1,674
Average score: Scotland 9-12 England
First meeting: 27 March, 1871 – Scotland* 0-0 England – Raeburn Place, Edinburgh
Last meeting: 16 March, 2019 – England 38-38 Scotland – Twickenham
* Scotland won by one goal
In brief

  • Last year’s 38-38 draw at Twickenham was the highest-scoring draw in test history
  • England have failed to win either of the last two fixtures against Scotland – the only time in 20 meetings this has happened
  • Scotland are without a win in their last five Six Nations matches, having won nine of their previous 14 in the competition
  • England have only lost their first two matches in a Championship season once (2005)
  • England have lost five of their last seven away matches in the Six Nations
  • Owen Farrell will make his 35th start at centre for England – the same number of starts he has at fly-half

Rankings predictor

  • Scotland will climb above Japan into eighth with any margin of victory
  • Seventh is possible if a Scotland win comes in tandem with a France loss to Italy
  • England will surrender third place if they lose and Wales win, or if they lose by more than 15 points and Ireland win

FRANCE (6) v ITALY (12) (Sunday)

Played: 42 – France leads 39-3
Points for: France 1,270 / Italy 481
Average score: France 30-12 Italy
First meeting: 17 October, 1937 – France 43-5 Italy – Parc des Princes, Paris
Last meeting: 30 August, 2019 – France 47-19 Italy – Stade de France, Paris
In brief

  • France have won their last four tests on home soil, their longest winning run since a five-game streak in 2010 – the year they won their last Six Nations title
  • Italy’s only win against Les Bleus in France was 40-32 in 1997 in the old FIRA Championship
  • Italy’s defeat to Wales last week extended their record run of Championship losses to 23
  • Italy’s last win in the Six Nations was against Ireland in March 2013
  • Italy have never won in any of their 10 Six Nations trips to Paris

Rankings predictor

  • Neither team can improve their position this weekend
  • However, France will drop below Australia in defeat and also Scotland if they beat England
  • Italy will drop below Georgia if they lose and the Lelos beat Spain


BELGIUM (27) v RUSSIA (20) (Saturday)

Played: 7 – Russia leads 7-0
Points for: Belgium 110 / Russia 263
Average score: Belgium 16-36 Russia
First meeting: 11 October, 1992 – Russia 17-11 Belgium – Stade du Heysel, Brussels
Last meeting: 6 February, 2019 – Russia 64-7 Belgium – Central Stadium, Sochi
In brief

  • Russia have won all seven previous fixtures against Belgium
  • Belgium are on a six-match losing streak
  • Russia have only won one of their last 10 matches (20-0 v Namibia in June 2019)
  • The Bears won 24-17 on their last visit to Brussels in 2017 but the last two encounters in Russia have resulted in a much bigger margin of victory (41 points in 2018 and 57 in 2019)

Rankings predictor

  • Russia cannot improve their position even if they win by more than 15 points and Romania above them lose by the same margin
  • Russia could actually win by that margin and still fall a place if Portugal beat Romania as emphatically
  • However, Russia will fall between four and five places with defeat, depending on the margin
  • Belgium cannot improve their position even with a win by more than 15 points; however, they will fall below Germany if they lose by more than 15 points

PORTUGAL (22) v ROMANIA (19) (Saturday)

Played: 24 – Romania leads 21-3
Points for: Portugal 233 / Romania 758
Average score: Portugal 10-32 Romania
First meeting: 28 May, 1967 – Portugal 46-6 Romania – Stadium Tapadinho, Lisbon
Last meeting: 10 November, 2018 – Romania 36-6 Portugal – Arena Zimbrilor, Baia Mare
In brief

  • Portugal’s only defeat in their last nine matches was 26-24 away to Brazil in November 2019
  • Romania have won the last six encounters dating back to 2011
  • Centre Florin Vlaicu is 49 points away from becoming the first Romanian to score 1,000 points in test rugby

Rankings predictor

  • Romania will climb above Uruguay if they win by more than 15 points
  • Portugal will drop below Canada and Namibia if they lose on home soil – and also the Netherlands if the margin is by more than 15 points
  • Portugal will climb above Hong Kong with victory but must win by more than 15 points or hope that Russia fail to beat to Belgium to return to the top 20 for the first time since November 2011
  • Romania will still be the higher ranked of the nations, albeit only by 1.51 rating points if Portugal win by more than 15 points

SPAIN (16) v GEORGIA (13) (Sunday)

Played: 20 – Georgia leads 16-3 with one draw
Points for: Spain 290 / Georgia 614
Average score: Spain 15-31 Georgia
First meeting: 4 March, 2000 – Spain 36-32 Georgia – Ciudad Universitaria, Madrid
Last meeting: 17 February, 2019 – Georgia 24-10 Spain – Avchala Stadium, Tbilisi
In brief

  • Spain’s last victory over the Lelos (25-18) came on 11 February, 2012 in Madrid
  • Georgia are on an 11-game winning run in the Rugby Europe Championship dating back to their 8-7 loss to Romania in March 2017
  • Spain are one win away from setting a new record for consecutive test wins (nine)

Rankings predictor

  • Georgia will climb above Italy if they win and the Azzurri lose to France in Paris
  • Spain will swap places with USA below if they lose by more than 15 points
  • Georgia will fall two or three places in defeat, depending on the margin
  • They would still be the higher ranked of the two providing the margin if by 15 points or less
  • Spain currently occupy their highest position of 16th but would move to 14th if they win by more than 15 points


FRANCE (4) v ITALY (5) (Saturday)
Played: 21 – France leads 17-4
Points for: France 604 / Italy 201
Average score: France 29-10 Italy
First meeting: 17 May, 1987 – Italy 4-16 France
Last meeting: 17 March, 2019 – Italy 31-12 France – Stadio Plebiscito, Padova
In brief

  • Following their loss to England, France have suffered back-to-back home defeats for the first time since 2001. The last time they lost three in a row at home was between 1997-98
  • Winners over Wales in round one, Italy have only managed back-to-back wins at the start of a Championship once before, in 2013
  • France have lost four of their last five fixtures – all to England
  • Italy have never won a test in France before but beat Les Bleues 31-12 in last year in Padova

Rankings predictor

  • Neither side can improve their position, even with an emphatic victory
  • The most France can gain with victory on home soil is 0.06 rating points
  • Italy could slash their deficit to France from 6.85 rating points to just seven-tenths with a victory by more than 15 points

SCOTLAND (11) v ENGLAND (2) (Sunday)
Played: 28 – England leads 26-2
Points for: Scotland 137 / England 1,163
Average score: Scotland 5-42 England
First meeting: 21 March, 1998 – Scotland 8-5 England
Last meeting: 16 March, 2019 – England 80-0 Scotland – Twickenham
In brief

  • England’s last defeat in the Championship was in March 2018 when they lost 18-17 to France in Grenoble. They have won their seven games since then
  • By contrast, Scotland have lost their last seven games in the Championship, a run stretching back to their 15-12 win away to Ireland, on the same weekend England lost to France in 2018
  • Scotland won two of their first three tests against England but none since then – a 21-game losing streak
  • England have kept Scotland scoreless in eight of the last 10 fixtures
  • England won 43-8 on their last visit to Scotstoun

Rankings predictor

  • England cannot improve their rating with victory due to the 23.98 rating points separating the sides before home weighting is factored in
  • A first win for Scotland for 21 years would only result in them breaking into the top 10 for the first time if Ireland are beaten at home to Wales or they beat England by more than 15 points
  • The Red Roses cannot fall from second place even with an emphatic loss

IRELAND (10) v WALES (8) (Sunday)
Played: 26 – Wales leads 16-10
Points for: Ireland 332 / Wales 358
Average score: Ireland 13-14 Wales
First meeting: 22 March, 1998 – Ireland 10-27 Wales – Old Crescent, Limerick
Last meeting: 10 November, 2019 – Ireland 13-15 Wales – UCD Bowl, Dublin
In brief

  • The 18-14 win over Scotland last weekend was Ireland’s first on home soil since February 2018
  • Wales have only lost one of their last five away matches
  • Wales won 15-13 on their last visit to Dublin in November
  • Both sides have found points hard to come by in recent times, Ireland averaging 14.5 points per game over their last 10 fixtures to Wales’ 13.2

Rankings predictor

  • Ireland will climb above Spain into ninth with any margin of victory
  • They cannot overhaul Wales, even if they win by more than 15 points – although the difference between the two would be down to mere thousandths of a rating point
  • Wales cannot improve their position as they trail USA by more than three points