Rankings boost adds extra spice to Twickenham clash

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

World rankings can be somewhat of a sideshow in rugby, outside of World Cup draws, the chance to go number two will add some extra spice to Australia-England this weekend.

If the Wallabies can end a four-game losing streak against England, they will move into the second spot, behind New Zealand.

England’s 20 from 21 record under Eddie Jones pushed them up the rankings, but they’ve come under criticism for avoiding world no. 1 New Zealand.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika isn’t so skeptical, saying earlier in the week that England deserved their second spot.

“I don’t think it is false. They are beating everyone else,” he said.

“They are not number one because they have not played the other mob and that is the only way to catch them, unless they lose.

“It is actually a vindicated position. We are third and they have beaten us the last four times so if you beat the third placed team four times you should be second.”

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper said a rankings boost was far from at the front of their mind, but could be a positive side-effect of a win.

“Something we haven't spoken about but know there is a potential to do that,” he said.

“But like our focus has been all year is to improve week by week against teams around the world.

“Our focus is what will work against England and it will be a nice bonus if it does happen.”

Before rankings come into the conversation, the Wallabies will need to combat a physically abrasive England side.

While Hooper stopped of using the term ‘bully’ that his coach pulled out on Thursday, he said they expected England to go at their halves, the way they have in the past, and Australia would be more ready for it.

"It's certainly to try to slow our ball down,” he said.

“Tactically if you're half-back's not at the next ruck, they have more of an opportunity to get a turnover or get pressure on your ball.

“It's just a tactic that you see not only England do, but a lot of other teams around the world and throughout this year.

“We've shown though starting to build consistency and win games in different ways that you are starting to see a harder edge, not a harder edge but a hard edge I think and we're liking where we're progressing."

Australia takes on England on Saturday November 18, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 2pm AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports and SBS.