Australia return to second in the rankings
The boot of Mike Harris ensured Australia return to second in the latest IRB World Rankings with the 25-19 victory over Argentina enough to regain the place they had lost following defeat to South Africa a week earlier.
Harris kicked 20 points at the Estadio Gigante de Arroyito in Rosario on Saturday to also give the Wallabies second place, albeit a distant one behind champions New Zealand, in the inaugural Rugby Championship standings.
Only four tenths had separated South Africa and Australia going into the final round of matches, but the Springboks’ 32-16 loss to New Zealand in Soweto had put their second spot on the line.
The difference between the two sides has now grown to 1.23 rating points, although both Australia and South Africa have seen their rating go down over The Rugby Championship.
New Zealand’s four-try victory – their 16th Test consecutive win – at FNB Stadium increased their rating by just over nine tenths to now sit 7.43 points clear at the top of the IRB World Rankings.
The All Blacks have occupied top spot since 16 November 2009 and their clean sweep in The Rugby Championship has seen that cushion increase by 3.05 points.
Argentina remain eighth after their first taste of The Rugby Championship, but are now less than a point above Scotland, placing their position in the second band of seeds for the Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool Allocation Draw on 3 December at stake.
The Rugby Championship was not the only tournament to impact the IRB World Rankings this weekend with the beginning of the RWC 2015 qualification process in Europe resulting in a number of positional changes.
Hungary were the biggest beneficiaries after winning the region’s first qualifier, climbing four places to 81st after beating Bulgaria 28-23 in the presence of the Webb Ellis Cup in Kecskemét on Saturday.
They now sit one place above Bulgaria, who fall three places to 82nd after losing the European Nations Cup Division 2C encounter before a record crowd for a rugby match in Hungary.
Cameroon and Slovenia also climb one place as a result of Bulgaria’s fall, while Jamaica, St Vincent & The Grenadines and Austria slip one as Hungary climb the rankings.
Poland, meanwhile, climb one place to 27th after an impressive 29-3 victory over their hosts the Czech Republic in another match doubling as a RWC 2015 qualifier, this time in Division 1B of the European Nations Cup.
While Poland swap places with Hong Kong above them for a new high in the rankings, the Czech Republic remain 40th despite the defeat, although now only two tenths above Uganda.
The final European Nations Cup match in the RWC 2015 qualifying process this weekend saw Luxembourg edge their hosts Finland 16-14, although the sides remain in the bottom two spots in the rankings.
Luxembourg have closed to within a tenth of Vanuatu above them in 94th with their Division 2D victory, while also increasing their cushion over Finland to 7.07 rating points.