World Rugby has published the ranking permutations for the opening rounds of the Guinness Men's Six Nations and the Rugby Europe Championship this weekend.
- Ireland will close the 3.97-point gap between themselves and South Africa at the top of the rankings to 2.43 points if they win by more than 15 points in Marseille on Friday.
- However, defeat will see the defending Guinness Men’s Six Nations champions fall one place to third with New Zealand the beneficiaries.
- France can only improve their position if they win by more than 15 points, with a victory by this margin lifting them one to third with Ireland dropping two places to fourth.
- Les Bleus cannot fall from fourth place even with a heavy loss to Ireland on home soil as England can only secure a maximum of 0.52 points for beating Italy in Rome.
- England, however, could cut the deficit to France to as little as 0.30 rating points.
- England will lose fifth place to Scotland if they fail to win in Rome and Scotland end their 22-year Cardiff drought with victory.
- A draw would even be enough for Scotland if Italy’s first win over England is by a margin of more than 15 points.
- Wales will move above Argentina and into seventh place in victory but need to win by more than 15 points to climb above Scotland as well.
- An historic victory for Italy over England at the 31st attempt would see the Azzurri climb above Fiji and Australia into ninth. Italy have not been ranked inside the top 10 since June 2013.
- Neither of last year’s Rugby Europe Championship finalists can pick up any points this weekend as both champions Georgia and runners-up Portugal are away to sides with a much lower rating than them in Germany and Belgium.
- However, both teams will lose at least two places if they suffer shock defeats, while Germany and Belgium stand to gain at least two places in victory regardless of other results.
- Spain could replace Romania in 19th if they beat the Netherlands depending on the margin and the outcome of the Oaks’ match away to Poland.
- Romania will retain the position if they win by more than 15 points and Los Leones fail to match that margin.
- Victory over Spain in their first test in 10 months would lift the Netherlands up one place to 26th with Switzerland the team to drop down.
- Poland will climb one place to 32nd if they beat Romania, with another place possible if Germany are also beaten at home by Georgia.
- Senegal and Algeria are currently separated by 19 places in the rankings, but a win for the lower ranked Algerians in France will result in at least a five-place gain and a new high.
- A win by more than 15 points would actually close the gap to just five places between the African rivals with Senegal dropping to 64th and Algeria rising to 69th.
- Senegal cannot improve their position in victory as there is a maximum of 0.45 points on offer, which would still leave them behind Singapore above them.