irb.com and James Mortimer 22.Jun.2013Getty Images
While Japan’s momentous first-ever win over Wales last week improved their rating points but not their actual position, two wins in the PNC would take the Brave Blossoms up one place to 14th in the IRB World Rankings, depending on other results.
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With success over Canada already achieved midweek, on Sunday Japan play USA, who have their own chance to make headway despite a midweek defeat to Fiji.
With fewer than 1.5 ranking points separating Canada, Fiji and Japan at the start of the week, there was ample scope for a reshuffle in the standings. Victory for the Eagles in Tokyo could see the Americans rise one place to 16th.
Scotland play Italy this weekend and, depending on other results, victory over the Azzurri would see them get back up to ninth while an Italian win would see Sergio Parisse’s men climb to 10th.
A first-ever win for Samoa over South Africa would see them rise two places to fifth, while a Springboks win would leave Samoa unchanged and slightly improve their points total.
Defeat for Tonga against Fiji would drop them two places to 12th and in turn lift Italy (currently 12th) and Scotland (11th) each by one place. A Tongan victory, on the other hand, would consolidate their 10th place with an increased ranking total.
Victory for Fiji could nudge Canada out of 13th place in the world.
Having racked up impressive wins against USA, Fiji and Tonga recently, the Canadians’ good form has stalled with defeats by the touring Irish side last week and Japan in the week.
The All Blacks and France will stay in first and fifth place regardless of the outcome of the third Test between the sides in New Plymouth on Saturday, though victory for Les Bleus would increase their rating points total by two.
Further down the table, Uganda host Kenya in Kampala on Saturday for the second leg of their annual Elgon Cup fixture.
Victory for holders Uganda would not change their world No.37 ranking, but would demote Kenya by one place to 41st in the world, in turn allowing Switzerland to rise one place without playing a match.