BY IAIN COLLIN – Capital City Press
Scotland will go into the eagerly-awaited Rugby World Cup as the 10th best team, according to the final rankings to be compiled before the tournament.
The Scots, who kick-off at the competition against Japan in just over a fortnight, have retained their place in the top 10 of World Rugby’s ratings, despite Saturday’s narrow 19-16 loss to France in Paris.
Vern Cotter’s team dropped to equal an all-time record low of 12th last month ahead of the warm-up games against Ireland, Italy and France, but have recovered their global status following back-to-back victories over the Azzurri.
South Africa, favourites in Scotland’s Pool B, will head into the World Cup ranked third in the world, thanks to Ireland’s fall from third to sixth spot, whilst New Zealand and Australia hold on to first and second, respectively, and hosts England have moved into fourth following Saturday’s win over Ireland.
Elsewhere in Scotland’s group, likely qualification rivals Samoa remain in 12th, Japan have leapfrogged Georgia into 13th following their 13-10 victory over the eastern Europeans and the USA have moved up one place to 15th, despite their 47-10 defeat to Australia in Chicago.
World Rankings top 10: 1 New Zealand, 2 Australia, 3 South Africa, 4 England, 5 Wales, 6 Ireland, 7 France, 8 Argentina, 9 Fiji, 10 Scotland.