World Rugby Men's Rankings preview: 16-17 March, 2024

World Rugby Men's Rankings preview: 16-17 March, 2024

World Rugby has published the ranking permutations for the final rounds of the Guinness Men's Six Nations and Rugby Europe Men's Championship this weekend.

Permutation highlights:

  • Ireland will drop below New Zealand into third place if they fail to beat Scotland in the penultimate game of the Guinness Men’s Six Nations 2024.
  • A heavy defeat by more than 15 points for Ireland combined with a win for France over England would see Ireland drop to fourth, with France moving up to third.
  • Ireland cannot improve their rating or position this weekend due to the 7.87 points between themselves and Scotland before home weighting is factored in.
  • England will move above France and into fourth in victory, while third is possible if Ireland are beaten by 15 points and they inflict a similarly big defeat on France.
  • England were last ranked in the top four (fourth) in August 2022 and haven’t been above France since February 2022 – before Les Bleus started on the road to a first Grand Slam in 12 years.
  • England can only drop a place to sixth if they are well beaten and Scotland shock Ireland with a big win in Dublin.
  • Les Bleus cannot improve on their present position of fourth in victory as there is only a maximum of 0.91 rating points available to them for a win by more than 15 points, which would still leave them 1.58 points behind New Zealand.
  • France could fall as low as sixth if they end up being on the wrong side of a heavy defeat to England and Scotland beat Ireland by more than 15 points.
  • Scotland can match their record high of fifth place, although only if they win by more than 15 points and England lose by an equally big margin.
  • Italy will match their previous high of eighth – last achieved in August 2007 – if they avoid defeat against Wales in Cardiff.
  • Such a result would also see them move above Wales for the first time since 4 February, 2013.
  • Italy were only ranked higher than Wales for a week then and have only been above them on two other occasions – for one week in March 2007 and two weeks in August 2007, so four weeks in total.
  • That means Italy will be guaranteed to be above Wales for the longest length of time in the history of the rankings if they win, given that neither team plays again for a few months.
  • It would make for an historic double as Italy’s win over Scotland in round four took them above Australia for the first time ever.
  • Wales will drop two places in defeat but are safe in the top 10 as they would still be 0.88 points above Fiji even if beaten by more than 15 points.
  • It is not possible for Wales to climb the rankings even if they break their duck and win for the first time in the Championship as they would still trail Argentina by just over a rating point.
  • A beaten Italy will drop below Australia and return to 10th place.
  • Victory in the Rugby Europe Championship 2024 final for Georgia will not be accompanied by an improved position in the rankings as the Lelos are too far behind Japan above them in 12th.
  • Portugal, however, will climb above both Georgia and Samoa to match their previous best of 13th if they can overturn last year’s final defeat and emerge victorious in Paris.
  • Georgia will drop at least two places in defeat – three if the margin is by more than 15 points.
  • Portugal will slip one place to 16th in defeat with Tonga the beneficiaries.
  • In addition to the bronze medal, 19th place is on the line when Romania and Spain meet in a replay of last year’s third place play-off.
  • Los Leones currently occupy that position but will lose it to Romania if beaten by the Oaks.
  • Spain can earn a maximum of 1.37 points in victory but that is not enough for them to overtake Uruguay above them.
  • The Netherlands cannot climb the rankings if they repeat last year’s fifth-place finish with another win over Germany, although they could close to 0.15 behind Switzerland above.
  • However, if Germany can turn the tables on them and avenge last year’s defeat at the same stage of the competition, the Black Eagles could climb the rankings, depending on how Belgium fare in their seventh-place play-off against Poland.
  • A win by more than 15 points for Germany would see them become the higher-ranked of the two teams.
  • Germany could fall up to three places depending on the margin of defeat and the outcome of Poland v Belgium.
  • Belgium will move above Brazil in victory and could climb higher depending on the margin and the result of the Netherlands v Germany match.
  • Poland will drop at least two places to 36th in defeat.
  • However, they will gain at least one place if they upset Belgium and could break back into the top 30 if they win by more than 15 points and other results fall their way.
  • In the Rugby Europe Men’s Trophy 2023-24, Croatia will kick-off their game against Lithuania ranked two places higher in 40th. However, the sides will swap places if the game ends in a draw.
  • Lithuania have the capacity to gain as many as four places while Croatia could drop as many as 10 places if defeat is by more than 15 points.
  • Defeat could see Lithuania fall as many as sixth places depending on the margin.
  • Croatia, meanwhile, can only gain one place at most with victory, with the Philippines in 39th the only team within their reach.


Match officials:

  • Mathieu Raynal (France) takes charge of Wales v Italy for the second time as he was also in the middle for Wales' 26-15 victory in the 2019 Championship. Italy have lost all four tests with Raynal in charge, while Wales have lost their last two outings.
  • Matthew Carley (England) referees Ireland v Scotland for the second time, having blown the whistle for Ireland's 31-16 victory in the Autumn Nations Cup in December 2020. Ireland are yet to lose with the English official in the middle, while Scotland have won only one of four tests with Carley as referee.
  • Angus Gardner (Australia) takes charge of France v England, his second match in the 2024 Championship after overseeing Italy's defeat of Scotland last weekend. It will be the second time he referees this fixture, having been in the middle for England's 19-16 victory at Twickenham in 2017.
  • Shota Tevzadze (Georgia) returns to referee a test for the first time in a year with the Rugby Europe Men's Championship seventh-place play-off between Poland and Belgium. 
  • Paulo Duarte (Portugal) is in the middle for the fifth-place play-off between the Netherlands and Germany, having already refereed the latter in the 2024 competition. 
  • Adam Jones (Wales) takes charge of Romania v Spain – the third-place play-off – for the second time, having overseen Los Leones' 21-18 victory in the 2019 competition.
  • Tual Trainini (France) has been handed the Rugby Europe Men's Championship 2024 final between Georgia and Portugal. He has not refereed Georgia since 2016, while Portugal achieved their record score in a test with the Frenchman in the middle. 

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