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World Rankings: Will there be a change at the top?

SPOTLIGHT: World Rugby has published the ranking permutations for the third round of World Cup matches in France.

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The No.1 ranking is on the line in the Pool B encounter between the Springboks and Ireland in Saint-Denis on Saturday.

South Africa will end Ireland’s 14-month reign at the top if they win with Andy Farrell’s men dropping to third below a France side victorious over Namibia.

This is despite the fact that World Cup 2023 hosts France cannot improve their rating by beating Namibia in their Pool A encounter in Marseille as a result of the 28.98 rating points between the sides.

However, Ireland will hold on to the No.1 ranking if they draw with South Africa – albeit only by 0.09 rating points.

A win would see Ireland’s cushion over South Africa grow to as much as 6.05 rating points if the margin is by more than 15 points.

If beaten, South Africa will also slip below a victorious France side into third.

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Defeat for France will see them drop below New Zealand, who do not play this weekend, into fourth place. However, Les Bleus can fall no further than fourth.

Two other teams – England and Scotland – are also unable to improve their ratings in victory over Chile and Tonga respectively. England’s rating is 22.75 points better than Chile’s, while Scotland’s rating is 13.14 points higher than Tonga’s.

Scotland and England, therefore, will remain fifth and sixth with victories.

However, England could move above Scotland if they win and Scotland lose, the latter potentially falling by as many as five places to 10th depending on the margin and other results.

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A defeat could see England drop to a new low of ninth, depending on other results.

A draw between Wales and Australia will see their Pool C rivals Fiji climb one place to equal their best position of seventh at the expense of the Welsh.

Fiji, who do not play this weekend, could actually jump as high as fifth if England and Scotland lose and their Pool C rivals Wales and Australia draw.

Australia will fall to a new low of 10th if they lose their Pool C meeting with Wales and Argentina beat Samoa.

However, victory for the Wallabies could see them jump as high as fifth in the event that England and Scotland both suffer shock defeats.

Defeat for Samoa will see them drop two places to 13th if Italy and Georgia beat the lower-ranked Uruguay and Portugal respectively.

A win for Samoa will see them rise to ninth, climbing above both Argentina and the loser of the Wales-Australia match. Manu Samoa have not been ranked as high as ninth since August 2015.

Portugal will become the higher-ranked of the two nations for the first time since March 2006 if they beat Georgia in Toulouse on Saturday.

Os Lobos have not beaten their rivals since February 2005 but a new high awaits them if they can record their first-ever World Cup win.

Portugal could climb as high as 13th depending on the margin of victory and the results of other matches.

Georgia will fall one place, below Japan, if held to a second draw in as many years by Portugal – two if Tonga shock Scotland.

The Lelos can only improve on 13th place in victory if Italy fail to beat Uruguay or Samoa are beaten by Argentina.

If both lose then Georgia will climb to 11th, the record-equalling position they were in when the tournament kicked off.

Uruguay must beat Italy by more than 15 points to become the higher-ranked of the two nations, a scenario that could see them equal their highest position of 14th.

Defeat for Italy will see them fall between two and four places, depending on the margin and results of teams around them.

A win for Tonga against Scotland will see them climb above at least Japan with the Brave Blossoms not playing this weekend. Any further gains will depend on margins of victory and other results.

Namibia will return to the top 20 for the first time since June 2017 if they can beat France.

Chile, meanwhile, will enter the top 20 for the first time if they can upset England and claim a first World Cup win and Namibia fall to Les Bleus.

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