World Rugby confirms rankings after end-of-year series
NEWS: For the first time since 2002 all three major leading Southern Hemisphere sides were beaten on the same day as the end-of-year series came to a rousing conclusion.
England were the first to strike a blow for the north with a dramatic 27-26 win over South Africa at Twickenham, another one-point game followed in Cardiff as Wales also needed a last-gasp penalty to snatch a 29-28 win against Australia before France rounded off proceedings with a 40-25 victory over New Zealand, their opponents in the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2023.
So what impact did this most dramatic of weekends of international rugby have on the World Rugby Men’s Rankings?
South Africa and New Zealand remain as the teams ranked first and second but with reduced points totals.
The Springboks dropped 1.22 points as a result of losing the Rugby World Cup 2019 rematch to Marcus Smith’s last-minute penalty, and now have 90.61 points – a lead of 1.86 points over the All Blacks, whose defeat to revved-up France for the first time since 2009 cost them fractionally more. England are now less than three points off top spot in third.
Ireland took full advantage of the third red card of Tomas Lavanini’s test career to extend their winning run to seven matches and maintain fourth place in the rankings.
France, not Australia, are now their nearest rivals as the win over the All Blacks pushed them up to fifth at the expense of the Wallabies, who drop to sixth.
Stuart Hogg became Scotland’s all-time record try-scorer with his 25th try for his country in a 29-20 win over Japan at Murrayfield that solidifies seventh place in the rankings, just ahead of Wales, who needed Rhys Priestland’s match-winning penalty in the game’s final act to see off 14-man Australia.
Wales and Argentina swap places with Japan making up the top 10.