Ireland, Scotland and Uruguay are the main beneficiaries from a rankings perspective after another enthralling weekend of international rugby.
Ireland have replaced Australia in third place in the World Rugby Rankings after their 50-22 win over Japan in Shizuoka and the Wallabies’ 24-19 loss at home to Scotland.
Joe Schmidt’s side added seven tries to the nine they managed against the USA the week before in New Jersey as they registered another convincing victory in the second match of their three-game tour of North America and Japan.
With 11 regulars missing on British & Irish Lions duty, an exciting crop of young players turned on the style to produce a result that was worth 0.43 of a rating point. Keith Earls, Dan Leavy and Jack Conan bagged a brace of tries each, with Garry Ringrose scoring the other try. Paddy Jackson enjoyed a flawless afternoon with the boot, kicking five conversions and a penalty, with Rory Scannell adding a late conversion.
Japan trailed 31-3 at the break but second half tries by Ryuji Noguchi, Kenki Fukuoka and Yutaka Nagore allowed for a more respectable final scoreline. While Ireland increase their rating to 85.09 points, Australia’s is down by 1.72 points to 84.63, putting them just 0.73 of a point above Scotland, who are on 83.90.
Scotland needed a victory margin of more than 15 points to break into the world’s top four for the first time in their history. However, with three of the last five fixtures between the nations settled by a single point, most famously at Twickenham in the quarter-final of the last Rugby World Cup, such an outcome was always going to be unlikely.
Scotland, though, will settle for a thoroughly deserved four-point victory which involved some heroic defending and a wonderful team try for flanker Hamish Watston. While the top four still eludes them, Scotland did enough to move above South Africa into fifth place, because the Springboks only gained 0.76 of a point for beating France 37-15 – a scoreline remarkably matched a day later by their Under-20 side against les Bleuets at the World Rugby U-20 Championship – to take their tally on to 83.63 points.
Wales only enjoyed a marginal gain for a scrappy 24-6 success against Tonga in Auckland on Friday night to stay seventh, while France and Argentina are unchanged in eighth and ninth, respectively, following consecutive losses to the Springboks and England.
After completing a 2-0 series whitewash of Argentina with a 35-25 victory over los Pumas in Sante Fe, England have cut the gap on top-ranked New Zealand by 0.61 of a point over the past fortnight. The All Blacks did not pick up any rating points for their crushing 78-0 win over Samoa so they now have a 4.64-point cushion over Eddie Jones’ side.
Fiji’s 2015 World Cup out-half Ben Volavola kicked a last-gasp match-winning drop goal to break Italian hearts in Suva, his strike worth 0.17 of a point in the rankings to the Pacific side. With a healthy 2.55-point buffer over nearest rivals Japan, Fiji’s place in the world’s top 10 looks safe for now. Italy stay 15th despite the 22-19 defeat.
Georgia are now homing in on Japan in 11th place after making it two wins from two on their tour of the Americas. Having seen off Canada 13-0 in the Calgary rain, the Lelos overcame hot and humid conditions to edge USA 21-17 in Kennesaw a week later, mainly thanks to a 17-point contribution from centurion Merab Kvirikashvili. Milton Haig’s side, who conclude their summer programme against Argentina next Saturday, pick up 0.69 of a rating point as a result of the victory.
The only significant movers from a tier 2 perspective were Uruguay, who claimed their first ever World Rugby Nations Cup title with a 24-14 win over Spain in Montevideo on Sunday. With a gain of one and two-thirds of a point for that triumph and a 32-29 success against Russia earlier in the week, los Teros move on to 63.15 points to climb three places to 18th, above Spain, Russia and Namibia.
WORLD RUGBY RANKINGS (as of Monday, June 19):
Last week’s positions in brackets –
1(1) New Zealand 94.78 rating points
2(2) England 90.14
3(4) IRELAND 85.09
4(3) Australia 84.63
5(6) Scotland 83.90
6(5) South Africa 83.63
7(7) Wales 81.45
8(8) France 80.16
9(9) Argentina 79.31
10(10) Fiji 76.63
11(11) Japan 74.09
12(12) Georgia 73.61
13(13) Tonga 71.85
14(14) Samoa 71.25
15(15) Italy 71.00