With 10 of the top 24 teams playing this weekend in five eagerly anticipated fixtures, there could be plenty of movement in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini.

After USA and South Africa renew their acquaintance with a first meeting in 11 years in Ealing, the second round of the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 gets underway with a match between in-form Scotland and France in Edinburgh.

And before the second of the Women’s Six Nations games between world number one England and Wales kicks off in Bristol, Spain begin the defence of their Rugby Europe Women’s Championship title against Iberian rivals Portugal.

A busy weekend of women’s internationals is then rounded off in Cork as Ireland take on Italy on Sunday with both teams looking for their first wins of the year.

So what permutations are possible this weekend?

England are unable to increase their advantage over New Zealand at the top of the rankings as victory over Wales does not come with any reward, nor will they fall from first place if beaten for the first time in 26 Women’s Six Nations matches.

However, a win by more than 15 points for Wales against the Red Roses on English soil would see Ioan Cunningham’s team recapture sixth place, which they lost in defeat to Scotland in round one. A narrower victory would also be enough if Scotland don’t beat France at the Hive Stadium.

With a maximum of 0.15 rating points on offer for a win over Scotland in Edinburgh, France can only make minor inroads into the deficit between themselves and New Zealand in second. France, however, will fall from third place if beaten by Scotland, with Canada replacing them.

Scotland cannot improve on a record sixth place with a first victory over France in 14 years as Australia are 5.71 points better off than them and there is a maximum of 2.85 points on offer for beating Les Bleues.

In Cork on Sunday, any form of win over Italy will be enough for Ireland to move above USA into ninth, even if the Women’s Eagles beat South Africa by more than 15 points the day before at Trailfinders Sports Ground in Ealing.

Ireland cannot fall out of the top 10 with defeat this weekend, but their advantage over Japan below could be cut to 0.80 points.

Italy can only climb the rankings in victory if both Scotland and Wales fail to win, a scenario that would see the Azzurre take over sixth spot.

However, Italy could fall one place to eighth even in victory if Scotland and Wales both upset their higher-ranked opponents.

Can Portugal get one over on Spain?

Lower-ranked teams won two of last weekend’s four fixtures and while Portugal go into their game against Spain as underdogs, it would be unwise to think that a win for Spain is a formality given the form that As Lobas are in.

Portugal’s women have made rapid strides since their reintroduction into the test arena in 2021 and earlier this month climbed up to 24th place in the rankings having achieved a maiden win in the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship with an impressive 27-0 victory against a more experienced Sweden.

Spain dropped to 13th place after last week’s narrow 15-13 home defeat to South Africa but with 11 places and 16.42 points between the teams, it would be a massive shock if Las Leonas fell at the first hurdle in their bid to win an 11th European title.

As such, there are gains to be had for Portugal from a rankings perspective if they can defy the odds and come away from Sitges victorious with As Lobas set to climb either one or two places, depending on the margin of victory

Spain will not gain any points for victory due to the significant difference between the teams’ ratings and will only fall from 13th if they lose by more than 15 points.

South Africa climbed up to 12th last week with their victory over Spain but no further improvement is possible for a win against the USA. The same applies to the USA if they come out on top in west London.