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France on the up as Ireland take a dip in ratings

By Gavin Mairs

France not only kept alive their hopes of reaching the World Cup quarter-finals by defeating Ireland 25-3 at the Stade de France on Friday, but also narrowed the gap with fourth-placed Argentina in the latest IRB World Rankings.

The World Cup hosts went into the match with 83.13 ranking points, but by beating Ireland they have improved their total to 84.63, meaning France now trail Argentina by only 0.19 points.

Ireland, by contrast, have seen their rating fall to 79.62 to leave them only 0.57 points ahead of seventh placed England who have improved from 77.84 to 79.05 points after their 44-22 defeat of Samoa in Nantes on Saturday.

The only other nation competing in France to have witnessed a change in their rating points, are Samoa as a result of the loss that ended their hopes of a quarter-final place. Samoa remain in 13th, but now trail Tonga by 1.90 points after a fall of 1.21 points.

Meanwhile, Argentina maintained a low profile yesterday, cancelling their scheduled press conference.

France however, have sent their best wishes to Eddie O'Sullivan's squad ahead of the final pool D encounter against Argentina at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Sunday.

If Ireland can win and deny Los Pumas a bonus point, and France win with the bonus against the Georgians in Marseille next weekend, France will avoid an undesired quarter-final rendezvous with the All Blacks in Cardiff on October 6 and instead will get home draw in Paris against either Scotland or Italy.

"I wished Ronan O'Gara good luck and said it was in our interest that they get a win," said France coach Bernard Laporte.

And it is not just France's coach hoping to avoid a Cardiff clash.

At Les Bleus HQ at Marcoussis, near Paris, manager Jo Maso is already scratching his head over the logistical conundrum the possible trip to Wales would cause.

"The IRB is taking care of all the hotel reservations and chartering the plane," Maso said. "The trouble is that we are only allowed to take 47 people and there will only be 45 accreditations to the Millennium Stadium."

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