Rugby: Wallabies' Cup top four spot in danger

The Wallabies face England on Sunday searching for a win after a disappointing loss to France. Photo / Getty Images
The Wallabies face England on Sunday searching for a win after a disappointing loss to France. Photo / Getty Images

The Wallabies' clash with England this weekend has taken on extra significance as the race hots up for rankings ahead of the Rugby World Cup draw.

Australia's 33-6 pummeling at the hands of France in Paris last weekend came with an extra sting for the Wallabies who dropped from second to third in the latest IRB world rankings.

Another heavy defeat for the Wallabies at Twickenham on Saturday would leave Robbie Deans' side in danger of missing out on a place in the keenly-sought top four.

Of huge concern for Deans would be the fact his side have less than a two-point buffer over fifth-ranked and equally-desperate England who were leapfrogged by France.

South Africa have no such issues, jumping past Australia to second after beating Ireland 16-12 at Landsdowne Road while the All Blacks will be the No.1-seeded team when the 2015 World Cup draw takes place in London on December 3.

The top four will be the seeded teams in each World Cup group, with every pool then allocated one team from the second tier and one from the third.

In short, the top four sides avoid each other until the knockout stages of the World Cup to be held in England.

England, who have to face Australia, South Africa and then world champions New Zealand before the draw, are determined to be in the top four for their home World Cup.

If the draw were held now, England, Wales (6th), Argentina (7th) and Ireland (8th) would all be in the second tier of nations.

Ninth-placed Scotland would in the third tier with Samoa, Italy and Tonga.

The IRB rankings are calculated using a points exchange system in which sides take points off each other based on the match result.

Whatever a side gains, the other loses.

The exchanges are based on the match result, the relative strength of each team and the margin of victory, and there is an allowance for home advantage.

Under the system, the higher-rated side (especially allowing for home advantage) would pick up fewer points than a lower-ranked team if they won the match, and would give away more points if they lost.

It leaves Australia vulnerable against the in-form but lower-ranked English side.

Wallabies winger Digby Ioane said the players were intent purely on regaining winning form against England and putting the crushing French defeat behind them.

"For us, it's just a case of getting back to the office and seeing where we are at," Ioane said.

"We expect them to come at us pretty hard in defence and approach the game in the same way the French did and we just need to be ready for them."

- AAP

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