Fiji will drop its world ranking if it loses to Tonga in their Pacific Nations Cup match up in Lautoka on Saturday.
Tonga who lost to Japan 17-20 in Coffs Harbour two weekends ago also moved down the rankings two places from 16 to 18 and propelling Japan to move up from 18 to 16; then to 17 last weekend after losing to Austalia A.
Fiji has been static laying on the number 12 spot while Samoa moved up one spot into number 10 after defeating Fiji in the first Pacific Nations matchup in Apia last month.
With the possible inclusion of overseas based players Norman Ligairi, Maleli Kunavore, Sisa Koyamaibole, Sireli Bobo, Sakiusa Matadigo, Isoa Domolailai and Filimoni Bolavucu; Fiji has every chance of winning.
But Tonga has responded quickly in anticipation of the Rugby World Cup in France in September with a full team playing together for the first time against Fiji.
So Fiji needs to beware or find themselves losing their number 12 spot and possibly getting relegated below Rugby World Cup pool contender Canada who is one spot below Fiji at 13.
Canada who defeated the USA in two consecutive matches 52-10 at Twickenham two weekends ago in the Barclays Churchill Cup bowl final and 56-7 in August last year for an RWC qualifier have been climbing the rankings.
The North American champion would be a likely threat to Fiji’s chances in their Pool C world cup matchup at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff at 2pm on Sunday, 16 September (2am Monday, 17 September, Fiji Time).
Fiji steadied their scrum last Saturday in the one off test against Australia but still need to work on their lineouts with Australia robbing most of Fiji’s throw-ins.
Tonga who had to qualify through a repechage for the French tournament will be digging in to prove that they are not going in for the numbers in the September tournament and Fiji knows what Tonga can do when trapped in a corner.
This will be the best chance for Fiji to prove to local fans they have consolidated their scrum after getting pushed around especially against the Junior All Blacks in Suva a fortnight ago.
It will be a good preparation for their final matchup against Australia A in Suva next weekend before preparations for the Rugby World Cup gets underway.
Fiji can only maintain their current third spot in the Pacific Nations Cup ranking with a point ahead of Samoa and Japan if it defeats Tonga and Australia A next week.
The fight for the top spot will be highlighted at 4.30pm in Dunedin between the unbeaten Junior All Blacks and Australia A.
The IRB World Rankings 11 June, 2007:
1 New Zealand 94.59
2 France 85.66
3 Australia 85.55
4 South Africa 85.13
5 Ireland 82.52
6 Argentina 82.41
7 England 78.93
8 Wales 76.26
9 Italy 75.55
10 Samoa 74.49
11 Scotland 73.94
12 Fiji 72.52
13 Canada 70.6
14 USA 67.20
15 Romania 66.79
16 Georgia 66.38
17 Japan 66.34
18 Tonga 65.52
19 Russia 64.37
20 Uruguay 63.29