World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini: Women’s Six Nations 2024 Round 4 preview

Three teams could improve their positions this weekend as the northern hemisphere’s leading competition reaches the penultimate round.

While many expect the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 title to be decided when France and England meet in Bordeaux on Saturday, 27 April, the chance to secure WXV 1 and Women’s Rugby World Cup 2025 qualification and extra points in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini still gives all teams plenty to play for in the final two rounds.

Table-topping England are at home to Ireland in the first match of the weekend with another bumper crowd expected at Twickenham to see if the Red Roses can extend their record-winning run in the Women’s Six Nations to 28 matches, while their closest rivals France travel to Cardiff to play Wales on Sunday.

Sandwiched between these two, the Italy-Scotland encounter is arguably the most intriguing fixture of the weekend because if the rankings are an accurate guide, it could be very close in Parma.

Only one place and 0.70 points separate Italy in sixth from Scotland in seventh, with the visitors knowing that a repeat of last year’s 29-21 win in Edinburgh will see them become the higher-ranked of the two teams.

Scotland haven’t beaten the Azzurre in Italy since they won 43-15 in Treviso in 1999 and that remains their only away win in the fixture – not taking matches played on neutral territory in France and Spain into consideration (P11, W1, D1, L9). Two defeats at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi are included in that run.

The stadium does have positive memories for Scotland though as they beat Ireland 20-18 in September 2021 to confirm their place in the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2021 Final Qualification Tournament (FQT). They subsequently won the FQT to qualify for New Zealand 2021.

Realistically, Scotland only need to avoid defeat to take sixth place from Italy. Only in the event of Wales beating France by more than 15 points, will a draw not be enough. In this scenario, Wales climb to sixth, Scotland remain seventh and Italy drop two to eighth.

Wales haven’t beaten France since they won 10-8 in Neath in February 2016 and they slipped to a 39-14 defeat in last year’s meeting in Grenoble.

Ioan Cunningham’s side have lost all three of their games in 2024 but if they turn the formbook upside down and upset Les Bleues and the match in Parma doesn’t end in stalemate, Wales will climb up one place to seventh.

Meanwhile, Ireland will replace USA in ninth place if they avoid defeat against England at Twickenham. Eighth is possible if they win and Wales fail to beat France.

England will stay top of the rankings if they suffer a rare defeat at Twickenham. But the 5.62-point gap between themselves and New Zealand in second could be cut by as many as three points, while France will drop below Canada to fourth if they suffer their first defeat of the competition.

The two main title protagonists cannot pick up any additional points this weekend as they are playing sides with a significantly lower rating, meanwhile, for Italy the points on offer for a win over Scotland will not be enough for the Azzurre to catch Australia in fifth place.

England top the Guinness Women’s Six Nations 2024 standings with a maximum 15 points from 15 after three bonus-point victories, while France are one point behind in second. Ireland currently occupy the third European qualification place set aside for WXV 1 in Canada, which would also be good enough to secure their place at England 2025.

Fourth and fifth – Italy and Scotland, as things stand – will secure qualification for WXV 2 in South Africa, and thanks to Ireland’s triumphant WXV 3 2023 campaign, they will be joined by a third European team.

The identity of that nation will be decided by a play-off between the team that finishes bottom of the Women’s Six Nations 2024 standings – currently Wales – and Spain, winners of the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship 2024. The play-off winner will qualify for WXV 2 with the loser slotting into WXV 3 in Dubai.

Last updated: Apr 19, 2024, 8:39:51 AM
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