While Italy’s historic win over Wales in the men’s Six Nations proved anything can happen in sport, it would take two shocks of even greater magnitude for there to be any changes this weekend to the top end of the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini.
In round three of the Women’s Six Nations 2022, table-topping England are fully expected to beat Wales in Gloucester in Saturday’s standalone fixture, while France travel to Scotland a day later as firm favourites to keep their own 100 per cent record going,
Ireland entertain Italy in Cork in the weekend’s other Sunday fixture.
Victories for either the world’s number one team England and France, ranked in third, would not affect their rating score due to the gulf between themselves and their opponents.
However, should Wales beat England for only the third time in 35 years of playing one another, they would be guaranteed to move up the rankings. By how many places depends on the margin of victory and the result of the Ireland v Italy match.
England are currently on a 20-game winning streak and have beaten Scotland 57-5 and Italy 74-0, both away from home, underlining how difficult a task Wales face even though they have also got off to a flying start.
Wales have beaten both Ireland (27-19) and Scotland (24-19) with late rallies to kick-off a Women’s Six Nations campaign with consecutive wins for the first time in seven years.
With England playing such great rugby and this being their first home game of the year, a bumper crowd is expected at Kingsholm, situated in the heart of rugby-mad Gloucester.
As of Wednesday, only 1,000 standing places remained to be sold at the 16,000-capacity stadium.
Meanwhile, the prize of a record high of eighth could be Scotland’s if they end their 13-year wait for a win against France. Other results would have to fall their way too, though, for that to happen.
France would lose third place to Canada if their dominance over the Scots comes to an end at Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow.
Les Bleues sit second in the standings on points difference from England, having beaten Italy 39-6 and Ireland 40-5. Their last game against Scotland in 2020 ended 13-13 so complacency won’t be a problem.
The final game of round three comes at Musgrave Park in Cork, where Ireland and Italy will be looking to open their accounts for the competition following back-to-back defeats.
Ireland have lost 27-19 at home to Wales and 40-5 away to France, while Italy lost 39-6 away in France before a 74-0 defeat by England last weekend.
In the head-to-head record, Ireland lead the way with 18 wins to Italy’s two but the Azzurre are ranked a place higher in seventh and have qualified for Rugby World Cup 2021, whereas the Irish failed to do so.
A first-ever win on Irish soil at the ninth attempt would see Italy climb above the USA and into sixth place, while a victory for Ireland would result in them being the higher-ranked of the two teams.