Defeat for either Scotland or Ireland could have massive implications on their 2019 World Cup seeding.
Although many have argued that both Ireland and Scotland are only playing for pride on Saturday, nothing could be further from the truth. Apart from the prize money on offer, Saturday’s result could have a massive bearing on the seeding for the 2019 World Cup.
This is because the game’s top eight nations are guaranteed an advantageous seeding at the 2019 World Cup, while those who fall outside of that bracket risk finding themselves in a pool of death. Therefore the consequences of defeat for both Ireland and Scotland are massive.
Although Ireland were ranked second in the world last August, Joe Schmidt’s men now find themselves seventh and at risk of falling outside of the game’s top eight sides. Scotland meanwhile are in ninth and looking to overtake eight placed France.
Indeed, with Ireland facing a three match tour of South Africa this summer, followed by a tough Autumn schedule that includes two fixtures against New Zealand and another with Australia, this weekend offers Joe Schmidt an opportunity to cement his sides claim to a World Cup seeding.
By contrast, Scotland tour Japan this summer, before facing Australia and Argentina in the Autumn. Therefore, if Vern Cotter’s side were to win this weekend, and pick up further ranking points in Japan, they could find themselves inside the top eight before their Autumn schedule.
Alternatively, if Scotland were to lose, they would realistically have to win each of their two games with Japan, and then beat both Australia and Argentina in November.
However all of the above may not come to pass, as World Rugby have yet to announce when the seeding will be finalised and the draw take place.
Nevertheless, as Tokyo won the right to stage the 2020 Olympics, all indications are that World Rugby will look to hold the draw for the 2019 World Cup at the end of this year, in order to promote the tournament over a long period and sell as many tickets as possible in a competitive market.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
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