EDITORIAL- Ranking Game Ahead Of Japan 2019 RWC
How they stand
Position Teams Points
1 New Zealand 94.78
2 England 89.84
3 Australia 88.14
4 Ireland 83.46
5 South Africa 82.57
6 Wales 81.77
7 Scotland 80.57
8 France 80.13
9 Argentina 79.91
10 Fiji 75.49
11 Japan 75.20
12 Georgia 74.24
13 Italy 74.16
14 Samoa 70.91
15 Tonga 70.25
One of the objectives of the end of the year November tour is to help, gauge and prepare rugby nations for the new season.
For developing nations like Fiji, Samoa and Tonga it’s all about rebuilding from ground zero while more established tier one countries continue to push the standard and setting the pace for the future.
And with less than six months to go before the Rugby World Cup 2019 pool draw takes place on May 10, 2017 in Kyoto, Japan, this weekend’s matches take on added significance.
It’s crucial across the board for teams who’ve already confirmed their place and for those who are yet to qualify for the four-yearly global showpiece.
In the current World Rugby rankings, the battle for the top four spots to determine top seeds in Tokyo intensifies as New Zealand (1st), England (2nd), Australia (3rd) and Ireland (4th) are keen to solidify their position.
2015 semifinalists South Africa (5) and Argentina (9) who face Wales and England respectively today won’t play again until after the draw. And victory could mean the difference between a top eight seeding or the prospect of being drawn in the proverbial ‘Pool of Death’.
A place outside the top four in the rankings leaves the Boks and Pumas more vulnerable to facing a tough group stage draw, as was the case for hosts England, who finished behind Australia and Wales last year and were dumped out after the first round.
Likewise, a place in the world’s top 10 is on the line in Vannes, France when Fiji (10th) play Japan (11th).
The Akapusi Qera-captained side could drop as low as 12th if they lose and Georgia (12th) beat Scotland (7th) in Kilmarnock. But if both Fiji and Italy (13th) win, Japan will drop to 13th.
Therefore it is important the Fijians maintained their top 10th ranking as playing the Wallabies in Melbourne (June 10) and hosting Italy (June 17) and Scotland (June 24) at the ANZ Stadium would have no bearing on the group draw for 2019.
While the Brave Blossoms have already qualified for the 2019RWC being the host country, the Vodafone Flying Fijians are close to qualifying after beating Tonga and Samoa earlier this year in the Pacific National Cup which was also a 2019 RWC qualifier.
Coach John McKee and his men will need to beat one or both next year to top Oceania and in a better placing.
The Vodafone Flying Fijians have struggled to perform at the RWC over recent years. Since the 2007 RWC where we played South Africa in the Cup quarterfinals, performance from then on took a dip after we failed to win a game in 2011 and won one in 2015
Now it is time to rebuild again for the future, to look at 2019. And beyond.