Japan leapfrog Scotland in world rankings ahead of Rugby World Cup clash

Japan's momentous win over Ireland moved them up to eighth in the world rankings, knocking Scotland down to ninth. Picture: Getty Images
Japan's momentous win over Ireland moved them up to eighth in the world rankings, knocking Scotland down to ninth. Picture: Getty Images
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Greig Laidlaw insists there is no such thing as “minnows” in Rugby World Cups anymore in the week that Scotland were overtaken by hosts Japan in the world rankings.



The Brave Blossoms’ famous win over Ireland at the weekend has seen them move up to eighth, with Scotland down to ninth, and the two nations will meet in a potential quarter-final "play-off" in their last Pool A match in Yokohama a week on Sunday.

Ireland, who came into the tournament at No 1, drop to fourth after their humbling by the Japanese.

“You can’t take anyone lightly these days. Each team is getting better and better,” said Laidlaw in Kobe today, where Scotland have remained since their 34-0 win over Samoa for part of the build-up to next Wednesday’s clash with Russia in Shizuoka.

“Some of the results we've already seen in this World Cup just shows you that if you're not on your game you'll be put under pressure.”

Scotland will go into that Japan match with just a four-day break, which is the opposite of 2015 when the Asians had a similar gap from their seismic win over the Springboks in Brighton to facing Vern Cotter’s side at Gloucester and being beaten 45-10.

“I think if we were on the Japanese side then of course we'd be happier with their turnaround. But we've known about this for a long time and have prepared with the strength and conditioning staff, the physios and the coaches so the boys know what’s coming.”

The fixture structure for this tournament was altered to ensure that tier one nations do face the occasional quick turnaround after it was deemed unfair that they would normally get a week or so between each game, while the tier two nations were given more challenging schedules.

Laidlaw, meanwhile, was one of the Scotland players who were given a rapturous welcome by local children as they paid a visit to Meishin Elementary School in Kobe.

WORLD RUGBY RANKINGS

1 (1) New Zealand 90.98

2 (2) Wales 88.87

3 (3) England 88.13

4 (4) Ireland 85.93

5 (5) South Africa 85.75

6 (6) Australia 83.52

7 (7) France 81.38

8 (9) Japan 80.70

9 (8) Scotland 80.62

10 (10) Argentina 76.79

11 (11) Georgia 75.06

12 (12) Fiji 72.42

13 (14) Italy 72.04

14 (13) United States 71.83

15 (15) Samoa 70.72

16 (16) Tonga 69.22

17 (17) Spain 68.15

18 (18) Uruguay 67.41

19 (19) Romania 66.69

20 (20) Russia 63.09

Our Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup coverage is brought to you in association with Castle Water www.castlewater.co.uk and on Twitter @CastleWaterLtd
Follow Duncan Smith at the World Cup in Japan on Twitter @Duncan_Smith