Saturday’s 16-10 win for Wales over Ireland at the Aviva Stadium not only denied Paul O’Connell the home farewell he’d have hoped for, it also resulted in the Irish losing second place in the World Rugby Rankings to Australia.
The defeat to Wales, three weeks after they’d so comprehensively outplayed their Celtic cousins in Cardiff, cost Ireland 1.7 rating points, leaving them on 85.19 points, 1.48 points adrift of the Wallabies. New Zealand are comfortably on top, a position they have occupied since November 2009, with 92.89 points.
Wales, meanwhile, moved above their RWC 2015 Pool A opponents England and into fifth place in the rankings following a performance that was several notches higher then the one they’d produced when losing 35-21 to the same opposition in Cardiff.
Wales’ first victory in Dublin for three years saw their rating total improve by 1.69 points to 84.63 – less than four tenths more than the RWC 2015 hosts.
While Scotland’s RWC 2015 preparations gained some momentum with a high-tempo, six-try display against Italy at Murrayfield, there wasn’t much movement in their rating points, the 48-7 win only earning them a fraction over a third of a point. Scotland are still ranked as the 10th best team in the world.
Japan’s 40-0 win over Uruguay at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Rugby Ground in Tokyodid not affect either side’s rankings poisition or points total.
The Asian champions ran in six unanswered tries, three in each half, to sweep to a 2-0 series win against the South Americans after beating their fellow RWC 2015 competitors 30-8 in Fukuoka seven days earlier. They remain in 15th position with Uruguay back in 19th.
Five other sides bound for RWC 2015 were in action over the weekend, albeit playing representative or club sides so the matches had no impact on the World Rugby Rankings. Tonga and Canada were the only winners of the quintet, beating Nottingham 69-14 and Glasgow Warriors 19-12 respectively. In the other matches, Samoa lost 27-24 to the Barbarians at The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, while Georgia lost 27-7 to the Newcastle Falcons and USA were beaten 24-19 by Harlequins in Philadelphia.
Papua New Guinea’s victory in the Oceania Rugby Cup had no effect on their ranking position. The Puks Puks stay 95th in the world, albeit with a marginally improved points total, after clinching the title on home soil with a 58-19 win against the Solomon Islands.
Two victories in the last seven days, 36-12 over the Solomon Islands and 20-8 over American Samoa, have seen Tahiti move up three places to 97th. The Solomon Islands fall two places to replace them in 100th position, while American Samoa remain at the bottom of the rankings.