Ireland may have claimed the scalp of their 2015 Rugby World Cup opponents France on Saturday, but the 18-11 victory was not enough to return them to third place in the latest World Rugby Rankings.
Joe Schmidt’s men lost their mantle as the leading northern Hemisphere team in the rankings last weekend when, despite defeating Italy in Rome, they were overtaken by 2015 World Cup hosts England on the back of their win over Wales in Cardiff.
Ireland’s victory over France, who they will face in Pool D along with Italy, Romania and Canada later this year, has cut the deficit to England to 0.17 rating points ahead of the sides’ RBS 6 Nations showdown at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, March 1.
England were also victorious on Saturday, but the 47-17 success against Italy at Twickenham had no impact on the rating of either nation as a result of the 11 places and nearly 15 points separating the two sides in the rankings.
Wales did improve their rating by just over a point on the back of a 26-23 triumph over Scotland at Murrayfield yesterday, but they remain sixth and still 1.24 points behind Australia.
Wales’ cushion over France, their next opponents, has grown from a few tenths to over 1.6 points. A second defeat in this year’s Championship for Scotland does not see them fall from ninth.
WORLD RUGBY RANKINGS (as of Monday, February 16):
Last week’s positions in brackets –
1(1) New Zealand 93.70 rating points
2(2) South Africa 88.23
3(3) England 85.83
4(4) IRELAND 85.66
5(5) Australia 82.95
6(6) Wales 81.71
7(7) France 80.09
8(8) Argentina 78.23
9(9) Scotland 77.11
10(10) Samoa 75.39