Three semi-finalists on the rise in rankings

(Rugby News Service) Monday 10 October 2011
 
Three semi-finalists on the rise in rankings
Shane Williams scores the opening try in the Welsh win over Ireland

AUCKLAND, 10 Oct. - Three of the four Rugby World Cup 2011 semi-finalists are on the rise in the latest IRB World Rankings as Australia, Wales and France all benefitted from victories over higher-ranked opponents at the weekend.

France are the biggest movers of the week, rising three places to fifth after beating England 19-12 at Eden Park on Saturday to gain some revenge for semi-final losses to the English at the two previous World Cups.

The climb sees Les Bleus regain the three places they lost after their shock loss to Tonga the previous weekend and means they now sit directly above England, who lose their mantle as the highest-ranked northern hemisphere nation after a two-place fall to sixth.

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Wales now hold that tag after rising two places to fourth on the back of an impressive 22-10 beating of Ireland to reach their first RWC semi-final since the inaugural tournament, also on New Zealand soil, in 1987.

The Welsh, who last occupied fourth briefly in early 2009, could have broken into the top three for the first time since the rankings were introduced in October 2003, had their margin of victory been slightly greater or South Africa lost by more points to Australia in Sunday's first quarter-final.

The Wallabies' hard-fought 11-9 victory at the Wellington Regional Stadium sees them swap places with the Springboks to return to the second spot they occupied before RWC 2011. South Africa preserve the southern hemisphere top three, but are now just over a point above Wales.

Ireland, like England, have slipped two places in the rankings to seventh after losing to Wales in Wellington on Saturday. Had the margin been more than 15 points it could have been worse for the two northern hemisphere sides with another place lost to Argentina.

The only quarter-final not to have any impact on the ratings was New Zealand’s 33-10 win over the Pumas at Eden Park, with the home side ranked six places and more than 10 rating points ahead of their South American opponents going into Sunday's second match.

New Zealand’s advantage at the top of the rankings has been reduced slightly to 3.42 points as a result of Australia’s win, while Argentina have slipped one place to eighth after France’s win over England.

There was one other Test match over the weekend in the European Nations Cup, with Cyprus overwhelming Luxembourg 48-7 in Division 2D. However, this did not count towards the rankings as Cyprus are not yet a Full Member Union of the International Rugby Board (IRB) and therefore not ranked.

RNS kb/pj