Top NH ranking at stake this weekend

Date published: August 4 2011

Ireland, England and France all are capable of ending the weekend as the leading northern hemisphere nation in the IRB World Rankings.

Fourth spot in the IRB World Rankings will be up for grabs this weekend with Ireland, England and France all capable of being the leading northern hemisphere nation.

Ireland currently hold that mantle but will lose it if they suffer defeat against Scotland at Murrayfield – regardless of the margin or what happens in the encounter between England and Wales at Twickenham – and fall one or two places.

If England beat Wales in the first of back-to-back Tests over consecutive weekends then they will take over fourth spot from a beaten Ireland, but if Martin Johnson's men also slip to defeat then Les Bleus will rise two places without kicking a ball.

A Welsh victory will see England fall two places to seventh – one above their lowest standing since the rankings were introduced in October 2003 – with Wales potentially swapping places with their hosts, if Ireland lose in Scotland.

Wales can only slip from seventh if they lose by more than 15 points at Twickenham, which would see them swap places with Argentina. The Pumas, who play a South America XV in a friendly on Saturday, can fall to ninth, though, if Scotland emphatically beat Ireland.

Two other sides counting down to RWC 2011 in action this weekend are USA and Canada, the traditional rivals coming face to face at BMO Field in Toronto on Saturday in the first of two matches over consecutive weekends.

Canada are currently the higher ranked of the two, sitting above the Eagles in 16th spot, and must win by more than 15 points on home soil if they are to climb above Georgia. USA will remain 17th with any margin of defeat, but the sides will swap places if the Eagles win on Canadian soil.

IRB World Rankings:

1 New Zealand 93.19
2 Australia 86.65
3 South Africa 85.24
4 Ireland 82.51
5 England 82.48
6 France 82.06
7 Wales 79.55
8 Argentina 78.97
9 Scotland 77.35
10 Samoa 74.55
11 Italy 73.54
12 Japan 72.56
13 Tonga 71.80
14 Fiji 71.52
15 Georgia 70.30
16 Canada 69.78
17 USA 66.78
18 Romania 65.57
19 Russia 61.93
20 Namibia 61.43

With thanks to the IRB