Friday 28 October 2016

Japan overtake Scots as Ireland rise to fifth place

Scotland rugby coach Vern Cotter
Scotland rugby coach Vern Cotter

Japan have moved above their next World Cup opponents Scotland in rugby union's official world rankings.

The countries will meet in a Pool B clash at Gloucester's Kingsholm ground tomorrow, just four days after Japan produced the biggest shock in World Cup history by beating two-time tournament winners South Africa.

The latest rankings list shows that Japan have risen two places to 11th, with Scotland - who have yet to start their World Cup campaign - dropping from 10th to 12th.

South Africa, meanwhile, have fallen three places into sixth spot as a result of the 34-32 defeat against Japan in Brighton.

But World Cup hosts England, their Pool A rivals Wales and Pool D favourites Ireland have each moved up one spot into third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

And it means that three teams in the same World Cup group - Australia, England and Wales - now occupy the three places immediately below long-time rankings leaders New Zealand.

Further down the list, Georgia are rewarded for their 17-10 World Cup victory over Tonga by jumping three places into 13th.

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter will put out a near first-choice line-up as he looks to avoid becoming the second side to slip up against World Cup shock troops Japan.

Scrum-half Greig Laidlaw will skipper the Dark Blues in the Scots' Pool B opener.

And Cotter has taken little risks ahead of facing a Cherry Blossoms side still buzzing from their 34-32 win over the Springboks on Saturday.

Mark Bennett and Matt Scott will form the Scots' midfield partnership, while Stuart Hogg has shaken off an ankle knock to get the nod at full-back.

Wing Sean Lamont - partnered by Tommy Seymour - will nudge closer to his century of caps.

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