Ireland’s 16-12 Six Nations defeat to Wales at Croke Park on Saturday has meant that they have fallen to eighth in the latest IRB World Rankings, swapping places with the Welsh, the new Triple Crown holders.
Eighth is Ireland’s lowest position since the World Rankings scheme was introduced by the International Rugby Board back in October 2003.
In the past year Ireland have slipped from fourth to eighth in the rankings off the back of some poor results. Previously, they had been as high as third – the last time being after their 2006 autumn international wins over South Africa and Australia.
With the Six Nations title and Grand Slam still in their sights, Wales’ win in Dublin saw them climb one place to seventh in the rankings at the hosts’ expense.
The Welsh travelled across the Irish Sea trailing Ireland by 1.54 rating points, but the victory virtually reversed that difference and means Wales now occupy their highest position since the middle of 2006.
Wales have been the team on the move in the IRB World Rankings since the turn of the year with a 4.55 rating point climb following four victories under new coach Warren Gatland, banishing memories of their disappointing World Cup campaign.
Wales’ opponents next weekend, France, secured a 25-13 win over Italy at the Stade de France on Sunday to keep their hopes of retaining the championship crown alive, although Les Bleus remain sixth in the rankings, 8.48 rating points above the Italians.
Scotland’s first win of this year’s championship – a gritty 15-9 triumph over England at Murrayfield – has moved them up one place in the rankings to ninth. England themselves fall one as a result of the defeat with Australia again making it a Southern Hemisphere 1-2-3-4.
IRB WORLD RANKINGS (as of Monday, March 10, 2008):
– Last week’s position in brackets –
1(1) South Africa 90.81 rating points
2(2) New Zealand 89.59
3(3) Argentina 87.42
4(5) Australia 84.20
5(4) England 83.18
6(6) France 81.00
7(8) Wales 78.72
8(7) IRELAND 77.36
9(10) Scotland 75.97
10(9) Fiji 75.88
11(11) Italy 72.52