Ireland climb rankings after Australia upset
AUCKLAND, 19 Sept. - Ireland’s first victory over Australia on the Rugby World Cup stage has been rewarded with a two-place rise to sixth in the latest IRB World Rankings, lifting them above Celtic rivals Wales and Scotland.
The hard-fought 15-6 victory at Eden Park on Saturday, Ireland’s first over Australia in five Rugby World Cup matches, regains two of the four places the Irish dropped after losing all four of their warm-up matches in August.
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A bigger winning margin could have lifted Ireland to third, equalling their highest position since the IRB World Rankings were introduced in October 2003, but the defeat was enough to see Australia surrender second spot to South Africa.
Defending champions South Africa’s 49-3 victory over Fiji in Pool D did not have any impact on either side’s rating points, but the islanders do climb one place to 14th as a result of Tonga’s defeat to Canada earlier in the week.
Tonga are the week’s biggest fallers, dropping three places to 15th after the 25-20 loss to Canada in Whangarei last Wednesday and now lie only three-tenths above Georgia, the margin the European Nations Cup champions lost as a result of their 15-6 loss to Scotland the same day.
Canada’s victory had provisionally lifted them to 12th, but Samoa’s 17-10 loss to Wales resulted in another place gain to record their highest-ever ranking. The Canucks’ subsequent 46-19 loss to France in their Pool A encounter in Napier on Sunday did not affect the rating of either side.
Eagles on the rise
Samoa’s first ever loss to Wales in a Rugby World Cup saw them slip two places to 12th with Italy the other beneficiary despite not playing a match in the last seven days. The near one rating point gain was not enough to retain their sixth place after Ireland upset Australia.
The other nation on the rise are USA following their 13-6 victory over Russia in New Plymouth. The Eagles’ first win on the Rugby World Cup stage since 2003 lifts them one place to 17th, taking them above Romania.
Romania lost 43-8 to ninth-ranked Argentina on Saturday, but this had no impact on the rating points of either side. Russia were not as fortunate, their RWC debut defeat by USA resulting in a two-place fall to 21st with Namibia and Portugal the beneficiaries.
The participating nations of Rugby World Cup 2011 now no longer occupy the top 20 positions in the IRB World Rankings, but with nine matches over the next seven days there are sure to be plenty more rises and falls as the race for quarter-final spots hots up.
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