Cape Town – England have replace South Africa in third place
in the World Rugby rankings after their first-ever win over Australia in
Brisbane was combined with the Springboks’ loss to 14-man Ireland in Cape Town.
England’s 39-28 victory at the Suncorp Stadium on Saturday
increased their rating points by 1.77 points to 86.37. Unbeaten in seven games
under Eddie Jones, England are now 0.71 of a point better off than South Africa
and just over one point behind Australia, who they would have overtaken too,
had they managed to put five more points on the Rugby World Cup 2015
Ireland, playing with 14 men for the best part of an hour
following the dismissal of South African-born flank CJ Stander midway through
the first half, produced a superb performance to ruin Allister Coetzee’s debut
as Springbok head coach. Tries from Jared Payne and Conor Murray and 16 points
from the boot of Paddy Jackson saw them to a famous 26-20 victory at Newlands
which also earned them two full rating points.
Unfortunately for Ireland, the heroic effort in Cape Town
was not quite enough to lift them any higher than their current position of
seventh in the rankings. However, Joe Schmidt’s side are just less than two
tenths of a point behind Wales, whose total remains unchanged despite their
39-21 loss to the All Blacks, who also stay as they were at the top of the
FIJI LEAVE IT LATE
Vereniki Goneva’s late match-winner against Tonga not only
handed Fiji a winning start to their defence of the World Rugby Pacific Nations
Cup title, it also helped them back into the top 10 nations at Japan’s expense.
Fiji’s victory came with a 0.17 of a point reward, enough to lift them above
the Brave Blossoms, who only gained two hundredths of a point after hanging on
for victory away to Canada.
Trailing 26-22 with seconds to go, Canada were camped on the
Japanese line and would have achieved a first win over the Brave Blossoms for
over a decade – and also climbed above USA in the rankings in the process – had
prop Djustice Sears-Duru managed to ground the ball over the line.
Georgia’s first-ever test match in the Pacific Islands ended
in a 19-19 draw against Samoa, and as a result there was no change to either
nation’s ranking with the Lelos still 12th and Samoa 15th. Lasha Khmaladze
could have won it for the Lelos but his late drop goal attempt was off target.
Meanwhile, Conor O’Shea’s first match in charge of Italy
ended in a narrow 30-24 loss to Argentina in Sante Fe. Again, the result had no
effect on either nation’s ranking position with Argentina unchanged in fifth
and Italy 14th.
Earlier in the week, defending World Rugby Nations Cup
champions Romania began this year’s competition with a 20-8 win over fellow
Rugby World Cup 2015 participants Namibia. The Oaks pick up 0.43 of a rating
point but there is still some daylight between themselves and Samoa, the side
immediately above them in 15th. Namibia, however, are in danger of being
overhauled in 21st place by Spain.
The weekend’s action came to a conclusion in Antananarivo on
Sunday with a 24-15 victory for Madagascar over Zambia in the Africa Cup
Division 1B, a result which did not affect either countries position in the
rankings. They remain 41st and 83rd respectively.
World Rugby rankings (Top 10):
1. New Zealand 96.10
2. Australia 87.56
3. England 86.37
4. South Africa 85.66
5. Argentina 82.59
6. Wales 82.49
7. Ireland 82.33
8. France 78.39
9. Scotland 78.32
10. Fiji 77.13