The champagne corks were popping across the country and further afield following Ireland’s 17-15 victory over Wales in Cardiff, a result which secured a first Grand Slam for 61 years and confirmed the current squad’s position of fourth in the IRB World Rankings.
Declan Kidney’s men, though, did have to endure a nervous end to the Millennium Stadium encounter as Stephen Jones’ penalty dropped just short with the final act of the match, but the win means they remain the leading northern Hemisphere nation in the rankings.
Despite the Grand Slam success Ireland still trail Australia by 2.59 rating points, although they do now have a cushion of 1.71 points over Argentina, who climb one place to fifth as a result of Wales’ two-place fall to seventh in defeat.
England are the other beneficiaries, climbing one place to sixth after regaining the Calcutta Cup with a 26-12 defeat of Scotland at Twickenham, a victory which sees them finish second on points differential from France and Wales in the RBS 6 Nations standings.
France bounced back from their defeat by England the previous weekend with a 50-8 hammering of Italy, although the seven-try performance at Stadio Flaminio was not enough to alter their position of eighth, while the Italians stay 12th.
There was one further change in the top 10 with Scotland, who finished fifth in the Championship table after only one victory over Italy, sliding one place to 10th with Fiji reclaiming ninth spot by the smallest of margins – one hundredth of a rating point.
Italy now have a new side hot on their heels after Georgia climbed another place to 13th – swapping places with Tonga – following a 29-21 defeat of Russia on neutral soil in Ukraine.
The victory maintained the Lelos’ unbeaten start to the European Nations Cup.
IRB WORLD RANKINGS (As of Monday, March 23):
1(1) NEW ZEALAND 92.68 rating points
2(2) SOUTH AFRICA 89.45
3(3) AUSTRALIA 85.86
4(4) IRELAND 83.27
5(6) ARGENTINA 81.56
6(7) ENGLAND 80.96
7(5) WALES 80.59
8(8) FRANCE 79.94
9(10) FIJI 75.24
10(9) SCOTLAND 75.23
11(11) SAMOA 72.57
12(12) ITALY 71.23
13(14) GEORGIA 70.39
14(13) TONGA 70.05
15(15) CANADA 69.12
16(16) JAPAN 68.05
17(17) RUSSIA 66.18
18(18) ROMANIA 64.26
19(19) USA 63.55
20(20) URUGUAY 62.78
– Last week’s position in brackets