World Cup second round: Small margins for ranking changes
NEWS: In terms of ranking permutations, it will be a relatively quiet weekend of World Cup action with only two out of eight games that can have an impact.
And that is only if the highest ranked team is victorious, a consequence of the significant differences in rating between the opposing teams.
England can only improve their rating by 0.02 points with victory over Japan given the 9.93 points difference between the teams.
This means they can go no higher than their current sixth position and also puts Steve Borthwick’s side at risk of being overtaken by Australia if the Wallabies beat Fiji by more than 15 points.
Such a result would see Australia climb two places to fifth, leapfrogging both England and Scotland.
Fiji will slip out of the top 10 if beaten by this margin and their fellow Pacific Islanders Samoa are victorious against Chile.
A smaller margin of defeat for Fiji will see them fall one place to 10th.
Wales will drop out of the top 10 for the first time since the rankings were introduced in October 2003 if beaten by Portugal by more than 15 points and potentially as low as 13th if Samoa beat Chile by any margin.
Any form of victory for Portugal will earn them a new high of 15th – unless Tonga spring a surprise against Ireland.
Os Lobos, on their return to the World Cup stage after 16 years, could go as high as 12th depending on the margin of victory and other results.
Chile can enter the top 20 for the first time if they beat Samoa for their first World Cup victory, leaving Namibia – as long as they lose to New Zealand – as the lowest ranked team in the tournament.
Samoa, meanwhile, could fall as many as five places if they lose to Chile.
While none of the top four teams in the rankings can improve their rating in victory there is still scope for a change at number one during this round of matches.
South Africa came within a point of returning to top spot last weekend and the Springboks will become the new number one if they are victorious against Romania and Ireland fail to beat Tonga.
This scenario – along with a France win against Uruguay on Thursday – will see Ireland drop from first to third place. Ireland can drop to fourth if the margin is by more than 15 points and New Zealand also beat Namibia.
Tournament hosts France can also climb to top spot if they win and both Ireland and South Africa fail to do so in their Pool B encounters.
France must lose to Uruguay to drop to fourth below a victorious New Zealand.
The All Blacks with a victory can move to top sport if Ireland, France and South Africa are all beaten, providing the Irish margin of defeat is more than 15 points.
A draw against Les Bleus would be enough for Uruguay to climb above a beaten Portugal into 16th.
Tonga must beat Ireland – and hope Japan lost to England – to improve on their current 15th position.
Romania will climb above USA, moving up to 18th, if they draw with South Africa.