Ireland and Wales have swapped places in the latest IRB World Rankings following Sunday’s Six Nations clash, with Declan Kidney’s men falling to eighth place overall.
Leigh Halfpenny’s last-minute penalty not only ensured that Wales started their RBS 6 Nations campaign with a hard-fought 23-21 victory over Ireland, but they have also climbed two places to sixth in the IRB World Rankings.
The successful kick means that the two sides swap places in the latest rankings, condemning Ireland to equal their lowest ever position of eighth, one place lower than they fell to after losing to Wales in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
The only other match to result in a positional change was England’s 13-6 win over Scotland at Murrayfield.
The Scots’ failure to turn numerous attacking opportunities into points on the board resulting in a one-place fall to 11th and a place swap with Samoa.
This equals the lowest position Scotland have ever occupied since the IRB World Rankings were introduced in October 2003. It is also the first time they have fallen outside the top 10 since the build-up to the 2007 World Cup.
Defending champions England did improve their rating with the victory, but still remain two points behind South Africa and a place in what will become the top band of automatic qualifiers for the 2015 Rugby World Cup pool allocation draw after the autumn internationals.
The opening match of the 2012 Championship – France’s 30-12 triumph over Italy in Paris – did not impact the rankings. The French remain third overall, 10.71 rating points above the 12th-ranked Azzurri.
IRB WORLD RANKINGS (as of Monday, February 6):
Last week’s positions in brackets –
1(1) NEW ZEALAND 91.43 rating points
2(2) AUSTRALIA 87.99
3(3) FRANCE 84.70
4(4) SOUTH AFRICA 84.34
5(5) ENGLAND 82.34
6(8) WALES 81.01
7(7) ARGENTINA 80.28
8(6) IRELAND 79.25
9(9) TONGA 76.63
10(11) SAMOA 75.81
11(10) SCOTLAND 75.44
12(12) ITALY 73.99