We take a brief look ahead to this weekend’s matches in the second round of the Women’s Six Nations to see what impact they have on the rankings.
England (2) v Wales (7)
When a serious injury ended her football career Hannah Bluck decided to 'have a go' at rugby. A year later the 20 yr old S&C student has made it into this year's Women's Six Nations squad, gaining her first cap last week against Scotland & scoring a try https://t.co/NaQEawDyH8 pic.twitter.com/ebc1K1AuZW— USW (@UniSouthWales) February 7, 2018
England coach Simon Middleton makes five changes, two positional, to the side that defeated Italy 42-7 in Reggio Emilia last Sunday. Charlotte Pearce will make her first start for England on the wing, having made her debut in Italy, while the experienced Danielle Waterman is named at full-back in place of Ellie Kildunne, who shifts to outside centre with Lauren Cattell dropping out of the 23 altogether. The only change in the pack comes at hooker where Amy Cokayne replaces Lark Davies.
Experienced duo Elinor Snowsill (full-back) and Sioned Harries (number eight), fresh from their outing in the Super Sevens in Brisbane, come straight into the Wales starting line-up. Harries will earn her 50th cap when she lines up alongside Alisha Butchers and Beth Lewis in an all-Scarlets back-row.
- England have won seven of the last eight Six Nations meetings with Wales, a 13-0 defeat in 2015 being the only blemish in that run
- England have won all five of their home games against Wales in the current format of the Six Nations, averaging 35 points per game
- Wales are aiming to open their Six Nations campaign with two victories for the first time since 2015. Their first two opponents that year were also England and Scotland
- England have won 26 of their 28 home games in the Six Nations, with only France (twice) visiting and claiming victory
- In contrast, Wales have lost six of their last seven away games with their solitary victory in that run coming against Italy in last year's opening round
Neither side can improve their position in the rankings, due to the point difference between the teams, but with three full rating points on offer for a Welsh win by more than 15 points, Rowland Phillips’ side can close the gap on sixth-placed Australia to just three-hundredths of a point.
| Scotland Women prepare for their @Womens6Nations clash against France at Scotstoun on Saturday, kick-off 7.05pm— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) February 8, 2018
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Scotland (12) v France (3)
Both sides name a couple of changes to their starting line-ups. For Scotland, Sarah Law (main picture) starts at scrum-half having been a replacement in the 18-17 loss to Wales, while Lana Skeldon comes in at hooker with Rachel Malcolm moving to blindside flanker and Louise McMillan dropping to the bench.
Les Bleues impressed with a 24-0 opening win over Ireland in Toulouse and keep faith with much of the team that started that match, with the two changes coming in the forwards. Audrey Forlani comes into the second row, with Celine Ferer dropping to the bench, while Patricia Carricaburu will start in the front row in place of Julie Duval.
- France have won 10 of their 11 Six Nations games against Scotland in the current format, winning the last seven in a row
- In those seven victories France have conceded just three points in total, with Scotland failing to score in each of the last six meetings between the two. France have scored 342 points across those seven wins
- Scotland have won each of their last two home games in the Six Nations, both victories coming by fewer than three points
- France have won their last three Six Nations games but have not won four in a row since winning nine on the bounce from 2013-15
- France haven’t won their first away game of a Six Nations campaign since 2015 (v Ireland), losing to Wales in 2016 and England in 2017
Scotland can move into the world’s top 10 if they record an emphatic win over France and Ireland crash to a heavy defeat at home to Italy in Dublin the following day. Any form of victory would see the Scots climb above Samoa into 11th, their highest-ever position. Third-placed France are unable to improve their rating or position due to the large differential between the sides before kick-off, but will slip below Canada in defeat.
Ireland (9) v Italy (8)
Ireland coach Adam Griggs has made two changes to the starting line-up that drew a blank in Toulouse last week. Katie Fitzhenry returns from sevens duty in Sydney and, in the only change to the backs, she comes into the side to partner Sene Naoupu in midfield. Paula Fitzpatrick moves from the replacements to start in the second row.
Italy have made three changes to the side beaten by England, two in the forwards and one in the backs. Flanker Beatrice Veronese and second-row Giordana Duca are the new additions to the pack, while Jessica Busato gets the nod at fly-half in place of Veronica Madia.
- Ireland have won all 11 encounters with Italy in the Six Nations, those victories coming by an average margin of 19 points
- Ireland lost their last Six Nations home game, against England, but they’ve not lost consecutive matches in Ireland since 2011 (v France and England)
- Italy have lost their last six matches in the Six Nations. However, their most recent win came away from home, against Wales in 2016
- Only once have Italy won their second fixture in the Six Nations (lost 11), that victory coming back in 2013 in Scotland (8-0)
- Ireland are aiming to avoid opening their campaign with consecutive losses for the first time since 2007, when Italy joined the Championship.
A win for Ireland would see them trade places with Italy and move up to eighth. A win by more than 15 points would propel Italy above Wales and into seventh – unless Wales come away from their game against England unbeaten.
The World Rugby Women's Rankings update at 12:00 GMT on Monday.