A fortnight away from their crunch RWC 2015 Oceania qualifier against the Cook Islands Fiji have leaped up two places in the IRB World Rankings table after beginning the defence of their Pacific Nations Cup title with a 45-17 win over Tonga.
The six tries to two victory in Lautoka saw them awarded 1.31 rankings points and takes them from 11th to ninth in the standings.
Not since 2007, when the Island nation made an indelible mark on the Rugby World Cup in France by beating Wales, has Fiji enjoyed such a lofty position.
Fiji are hoping to fill one of the two remaining spots in Pool A at next year’s tournament alongside host nation England, Australia, Wales and the Repechage winner.
Fiji’s gain is Argentina’s loss, however, as they swap places with the Pumas who suffered a second straight loss on home soil to Ireland.
Since the rankings began some 11 years ago Argentina have never been lower than their current position of 11th.
Otherwise the top 20 remains unchanged in terms of positions, although Australia, with a gain of 0.01 points, Ireland (0.58), Scotland(0.71), Samoa (0.33), Japan (0.49) and Romania (0.12) did improve their rating points total.
There were six-point margins of victory for Australia and Ireland against France and Argentina respectively, while Scotland squeezed past Canada, 19-17, to win for the second week running on North American soil.
Samoa’s first win at the fifth attempt came at the expense of 14th-placed Italy, who are in danger of slipping to their lowest ever ranking position unless they arrest a run of eight straight defeats.
In contrast, Japan made it nine wins on the spin with an entertaining 37-29 win over the USA in Carson, California, and Romania’s bid to clinch a hat-trick of IRB Nations Cup titles got off to a successful start with a 34-16 win over Uruguay in Bucharest.