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June 14, 2012

French look for Argentina win to put heat on SANZAR top three

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French look for Argentina win to put heat on SANZAR top three

By SANZAR News Service and irb.com

Facing Argentina on their own turf is one of the tougher assignments in world rugby – but if France can pull off victory this weekend the reverberations will be felt in the IRB World Rankings.

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Despite reaching the Rugby World Cup 2011 final, Les Bleus could finish only fourth in this year’s Six Nations.

While the sides that finished above them in the latter tournament – Wales, England and Ireland – failed to make a dent in the rankings last week, France could profit when they enter the fray.

A convincing win over the Pumas in Cordoba on Saturday could lift the French from sixth to fourth when the IRB World Rankings are released on Monday, knocking England out of the top four.

However, beating the Pumas on home soil is no easy task: the French have lost seven of the sides’ past 10 encounters, and have not beaten them away since 1998.

An Argentina win would see the Rugby World Cup quarter-finalists rise to the world top six and give them a huge confidence boost with the inaugural Rugby Championship just a couple of months away.

France’s Six Nations counterparts are all in action this weekend, and after Wales gave Australia a second-half fright in the first Test, the Wallabies will not be taking the threat lightly in Melbourne on Saturday.

England face South Africa in Johannesburg, and their first-half display against the Springboks in Durban last week showed they were capable of matching the hosts.

Meanwhile, Ireland take on the All Blacks in Christchurch, but regardless of the scoreline will leapfrog Argentina into seventh should the Pumas lose to France.

Meanwhile, Samoa and Japan meet up in the sole Pacific Nations Cup fixture of the weekend with their positions in the standings almost guaranteed to remain the same.

Italy and Canada are almost neck and neck in the standings; although Canada will start as underdogs, any win would see them take the Italians’ 12th place in the standings.

Scotland will look to build on their surprise victory over Australia when they face Fiji on Saturday, knowing that a win will return them to the world top 10.

Russia’s 19-13 win over Uruguay in the Nations Cup on Tuesday lifts them to at least 19th in the world, but the South Americans will stay outside the top 20 even if they manage a resounding victory over Portugal on Sunday.