New Zealand will be knocked off second spot by France in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini if Les Bleus achieve their biggest win over Wales in Cardiff in 15 years.
A win by more than 15 points – something they haven’t achieved in the Welsh capital since 2007 – would increase the Grand Slam hopefuls’ rating by 1.07 points, enough to see them overhaul the All Blacks.
Less than two points would then separate France from the world’s number one ranked team, South Africa, with further inroads into that lead possible if Les Bleus complete a clean sweep of wins with victory against England in Paris on the final weekend of the Six Nations 2022.
The last time France held second position in the rankings was during Rugby World Cup 2007, following their famous win over the All Blacks in, of all places, Cardiff.
A bad defeat for Wales would see them drop below Scotland and into eighth in the world – unless Scotland slip up against Italy in Rome.
Wales can only climb higher than their present position of seventh if they beat France by over 15 points. If that is the case, Wales would replace Australia in sixth and France will fall to fourth – or fifth if England’s match against Ireland ends in a draw. That has never happened in the Six Nations era before, and not since 1968 in any form of competition.
Whoever emerges victorious between England and Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday will be the higher-ranked of the two teams, with third place on the cards if France have also been beaten the night before. If France draw then England or Ireland must win by more than 15 points to go to third.
As the away side and the lower-ranked of the two teams, Ireland will get 2.09 points as a reward for a big win as opposed to 0.91 to England. Both teams, however, would still close to less than a point of New Zealand in second if they were to record a big win in what is a pivotal encounter for their Six Nations 2022 title chances.
Top 12 attainable for Georgia
With only a fraction over a quarter of a point on offer for a win over Italy in Rome on Saturday, Scotland cannot improve on their current position of eighth unless Wales lose to France.
It is not possible for Italy to leapfrog Georgia in the rankings if both teams win this weekend.
Georgia play Romania in the Rugby Europe Championship 2022 and a win by more than 15 points would lift them above Samoa and into 12th place.
A defeat for Georgia, however, would open the door for the Azzurri to improve on their current position of 14th if they can finally end their 35-match losing streak in the Six Nations.
As for Romania, the Oaks will climb above Tonga if they beat Georgia and can go as high as 15th depending on margin and the outcome of Spain v Portugal.
Meanwhile, a new high of 15th is possible for Portugal if they beat Spain and other results in the Rugby Europe Championship 2022 fall their way.
Six Nations 2022, Round 4 fixtures
Friday, 11 March, Wales v France, KO 20:00 GMT
Saturday, 12 March, Italy v Scotland, KO 15:15 (GMT+1)
Saturday, 12 March, England v Ireland, KO 16:45 GMT