RWC Seeding - Depth and Improvement

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Post by doctor_grey on Thu Nov 24, 2016 12:04 pm

Just back from an all-nighter in the A&E and can't sleep.  So here are some idle musings on the upcoming RWC.  The current World Rugby rankings, which to me are no more than RWC seedings, really show how the depth has improved in the lower lever nations.  The current rankings are below which will obviously change somewhat before the RWC pools are drawn next May.  The SH teams don't play after the current series, but we still have various NH tournaments including the Six Nations which will jostle things a bit.  I sorted the teams in the top 20 by Seeding Band, if the pool draw was today:
                 
SEEDING BAND 1SEEDING BAND 2SEEDING BAND 3 SEEDING BAND 4SEEDING BAND 5
RANKTEAMSPOINTSRANKTEAMSPOINTSRANKTEAMSPOINTSRANKTEAMSPOINTSRANKTEAMSPOINTS
1NEW ZEALAND94.785SOUTH AFRICA82.499ARGENTINA79.9113ITALY74.2317USA64.66
2ENGLAND89.846WALES81.7710FIJI75.4914SAMOA70.9118CANADA64.29
3AUSTRALIA88.147SCOTLAND80.5711JAPAN75.215TONGA70.2519RUSSIA63.25
4IRELAND83.468FRANCE80.1312GEORGIA74.2416ROMANIA69.3620NAMIBIA62.78

To me the improvement in the competitiveness of the 3rd seeding band is significant.  Additionally, seeding band 4 now has Italy and Samoa which could also throw a scare into teams.  According to World Rugby, each band is drawn in a randomised manner.  So, it is entirely possible for New Zealand, for example, to have to play South Africa, Argentina, Italy and USA.  This is just pool play before the knock-outs begin, which could include France, Australia, and England.  The World Cup really is becoming more competitive.

How do you think the seeding bands will change?  And can an underdog like Japan, who I think will do well at home, get into the knock-outs?  At whose potential expense?

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Post by Hazel Sapling on Thu Nov 24, 2016 12:36 pm

Japan can get into the knockouts. They were unlucky neither Scotland nor Samoa could do them a favour and beat SA. It all comes down to the draw they get. If SA don't sort themselves out, they could be the 10th ranked side by 2019.

The draw 2 years in advance is ridiculous though because 2 years is a long time in rugby. Japan are improving rapidly and can probably beat everyone bar the top 4 on their day. It will probably be clearer in late 2018 which of Italy, Japan, Fiji and Georgia will have the best chance to spring an upset.

I think the Pacifics are the question mark. Will any of Samoa, Fiji and Tonga ever make another quarter final?

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Post by fa0019 on Thu Nov 24, 2016 12:53 pm

Imagine a pool of Ireland, Wales, Argentina, Italy.

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Post by doctor_grey on Thu Nov 24, 2016 1:53 pm

fa0019 wrote:Imagine a pool of Ireland, Wales, Argentina, Italy.
Add in the Canadians or Americans who are both improving. The Canadians are becoming very physical.

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Post by Poorfour on Thu Nov 24, 2016 1:53 pm

Japan's chances were totally shafted by their match schedule, which required them to play Scotland midweek after the South Africa game.

One thing they can be sure of as hosts in 2019 is that that won't happen again, but I hope World Rugby also looks carefully at how it can schedule things so that no smaller teams are disadvantaged by short turnarounds.

Going back to the seedings, it's pretty clear that there is going to be a group of death - possibly 2. Imagine Ireland, Wales, Argentina, Samoa, or England, South Africa, Japan and Italy. Plus, a bad 6 nations for France and a good one for Italy could result in a Tier 3 of France, Japan, Fiji and Italy - none of them easy.
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Post by Gooseberry on Thu Nov 24, 2016 2:15 pm

Just a quick pointer, only 12 of those teams are actual qualifiers at this point.
Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Romania all need to get through the regional qualifying and playoffs.

The notable one there really is Fiji, currently ranked 10th who had a lot of ups and down over the last decade. Only 2 of the 3 Oceania teams are garunteed a place, the other has to go into a playoff.

Africa is garunteed a qualifier, thats tight between Namibia (20) and Kenya (23), the other going into a repechage torunament.

Europe gets one more auto qualifier form the European Nations cup .. likely Roman (15) or Russia (eep! 19 ) (Although Spain 22 are also a possibility) ... and another playing off against the winner of an Ociena Asia playoff.

That Asian team is likley to be Hong Kong (27) or Korea (28)... and unlikey to trouble anyone in the playoffs to be fair.

Americas get two qualfiers (likely US 17 and canada 18) and another in the repechage...likely Uraguay (21)


TL/DR as rankings stand at the minute, if all games go "true to form", the full qualfiers would be those in the OP plus US (17), Canada (18), Namibia (20), Russia (19) ...which actually shows theres a degree of fairness (based on proven ability to date) to the way the qualifiers are set up if somewhat by accident rather than design. Asia may be hard done in the process but frankly they dont have teams worthy of qualifying.


The rankings will of course shuffle a bit by the time the draw is made next Spring. In previous iterations it wouldve ben after this set of AI's. Japan as hosts were pushing for that date to be retained to enable them to start directly marketing games, but World Rugby comprimised on the "common sense" that says the merit based draw should be made as close to the comeptition as is practicable. So we get 2.5 years rather than 3.

As it is though with increasingly comeptitive pools the actual draw seeding becomes increasingly irrelevant. England did well out of it in 2011, badly in 2015 despite being higher ranked at the time of the draw.

Its good for the contest to have meaningful pool games even if it makes the TV execs nervy (*cough* England *cough*)


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Post by Gooseberry on Thu Nov 24, 2016 2:16 pm

Hazel Sapling wrote:Japan are improving rapidly and can probably beat everyone bar the top 4 on their day.

Its them that argued to keep the 3 year draw.

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Post by doctor_grey on Thu Nov 24, 2016 3:27 pm

It would certainly be interesting to look at the rankings as we get closer to the RWC even if the pool draws have passed.  The Boks appear to be in a world of hurt at the moment.  After the AIs they can't lose rating points, but the NH teams behind them can climb based upon the Six nations.  Will be interesting to see how this unfolds, whether they are in seeding band 1 or 2.  

It was really a shame Japan didn't make the knock-outs last time.  Assuming they improve, even just a little over today's form, along with Argentina and Italy, we might have most pools which are no longer gimmees.    And, I would guess, that will make the tv execs happy and nervous at the same time.  I also think that is what we want, a tournament with more possibilities and more good teams.

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Post by Pot Hale on Thu Nov 24, 2016 8:04 pm

doctor_grey wrote:It would certainly be interesting to look at the rankings as we get closer to the RWC even if the pool draws have passed.  The Boks appear to be in a world of hurt at the moment.  After the AIs they can't lose rating points, but the NH teams behind them can climb based upon the Six nations.  Will be interesting to see how this unfolds, whether they are in seeding band 1 or 2.  

It was really a shame Japan didn't make the knock-outs last time.  Assuming they improve, even just a little over today's form, along with Argentina and Italy, we might have most pools which are no longer gimmees.    And, I would guess, that will make the tv execs happy and nervous at the same time.  I also think that is what we want, a tournament with more possibilities and more good teams.

If South Africa lose to Wales, then it's possible they could drop into third tier during the Six Nations depending on results. In which case, some of the pool draws could get very interesting.

Imagine - NZ, Australia, South Africa in one pool.....
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Post by MrsP on Thu Nov 24, 2016 8:48 pm

South Africa can drop to 7th after the weekend if results go against them - however that requires Argentina and France to win.
They can theoretically drop to third tier before seeding if Italy play a blinder - SA would be on 81 and a bit points after the weekend Italy on 74.5 so Italy would have to win at least 4 of their 6 Nations games. But that only applies if Argentina beat England and therefore pass them at the weekend. The worst they could probably be is 8th - if they end up 7th after the weekend they could be passed by Scotland during the 6 Nations - they would have NZ, Aus, and the 6 Nations teams apart from Italy above them.

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Post by MrsP on Thu Nov 24, 2016 8:53 pm

And Fiji are in diffs - they could lose to Japan and be passed by Japan, Georgia and Italy at the weekend putting them in tier 4 if they qualify.

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