With the final round of the Women’s Six Nations 2022 taking place, a Rugby Europe Women’s Trophy fixture between Portugal and Germany and Fiji taking on Japan in Australia, this weekend could see plenty of movement in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini.
On Saturday, all eyes will be on the Stade Jean Dauger in Bayonne as the two unbeaten teams in the Women’s Six Nations 2022, hosts France and defending champions England, go head-to-head for the title and the Grand Slam.
Ahead of the 50th test meeting between the teams, England top the standings on points difference after victories over Scotland (57-5), Italy (74-0), Wales (58-5) and Ireland (69-0), while France have beaten Italy (39-6), Ireland (40-5), Scotland (28-8) and Wales (33-5).
Breaking through barriers
England are currently on a 22-match winning run dating back to a 28-13 loss to New Zealand in July 2019 – longer than any England men’s run – and another victory would see them not only be crowned champions of Europe for the fourth consecutive year but also increase their lead over New Zealand at the top of the rankings by just over half a point to 8.20 points. Alternatively, a win by more than 15 points would increase the Red Roses’ cushion over world champions New Zealand to 8.45 rating points
The Red Roses are currently on 96.26 points but could break through the 97-point barrier for the first time since the rankings were introduced in February 2016 if they maintain their current high rate of scoring.
Les Bleues would slip below Canada and into fourth in defeat, however a morale-boosting win on home soil, or even a draw, would lift them up to second at the expense of the Black Ferns. That would match France’s best-ever ranking, second being a position they last held, albeit for one week only, in July 2016.
France will surpass 90 rating points for the first time if they win by more than 15 points – a margin of victory they have only ever achieved once before, back in 1999, when the sides met in Italy and Les Bleues won 19-0.
Scots and Welsh could raise the bar
The women’s version of Le Crunch falls between the two other fixtures in the fifth and final round of the Women’s Six Nations 2022.
Cardiff is the first port of call as Wales and Italy get proceedings underway on Saturday at 12:00 (local time), while the tournament comes to a conclusion in Belfast with an evening kick-off between Ireland and Scotland.
Ireland are the only team of the four not able to improve their rankings position, but a new record high of eighth is within Scotland’s reach and Wales could also equal their best-ever position of seventh if all the permutations fall in their favour.
For that scenario to happen, Wales and Scotland would need to win their respective matches by more than 15 points. Italy would drop to ninth and Ireland 10th if beaten resoundly.
However, Italy will jump two places to sixth if they build on last weekend’s victory against Scotland and win back-to-back matches, regardless of what happens in Belfast, while Wales could slip out of the Top 10 together if they are badly beaten and the result of the late kick-off works against them.
Fijiana aim to keep the momentum going
Fiji and Japan’s preparation for Rugby World Cup 2021, played in 2022, will move on a level when they meet on the Gold Coast of Australia. The host team enter the triangular tournament in a week’s time.
The only previous match between the teams in Hong Kong in 2016 ended in a 55-0 win for Japan.
Japan are ranked nine places higher than Fiji in 12th, but in reality, the gap between the teams is closer.
Women’s rugby in Fiji has come on leaps and bounds in the five-and-a-bit years since that previous encounter, with Fijiana Drua’s historic victory in the Super W competition the latest triumph of a high performance programme on an upward trajectory.
Neither team will improve their rankings position through victory alone, but Fiji could overtake Germany and move into the Top 20 if they win by more than 15 points and the Germans lose by a similarly big margin.
A big win for Fijiana would see Japan fall one place – below South Africa.
In the Rugby Europe Women’s Trophy, Germany cannot improve their position due to their commanding 21.72-point lead over Portugal in the rankings.
However, Portugal will jump at least eight places to 41st if they defy pre-match predictions with a victory.
The only previous meeting between the teams was in 1995 when Germany won 50-0.
Portugal won their opening game in the Trophy, 10-8 against Belgium back in December, while for Germany this is their first game.