Ireland drop to lowest ever world ranking
Ireland were the big losers on the final weekend of the RBS 6 Nations with a first loss to Italy since 1997 condemning Declan Kidney’s side to a two place fall to their lowest ever position in the IRB World Rankings.
Three defeats and draw meant Ireland narrowly avoided the wooden spoon but there was no such luck in the rankings with the 22-15 defeat in Rome on Saturday dropping them below Samoa and Argentina to ninth.
Ireland’s previous lowest position was eighth on a handful of occasions, but it could have been worse than ninth had Scotland not slipped to a 23-16 loss to France at the Stade de France in the final RBS 6 Nations match of 2013.
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The other five nations all ended the Championship’s final weekend in the place they began it, although in the cases of Wales and Italy significantly closer to the sides above them in England and Tonga.
Wales destroyed England’s hopes of a first Grand Slam since 2003 with a dominant 30-3 victory at the Millennium Stadium to retain the title and slash the deficit between the two to just 0.36 rating points.
The heavy loss for England not only puts their mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation under threat but also means their deficit to Australia in third has now grown to more than three rating points.
Italy’s margin of victory over Ireland was not big enough to improve their position of 12th, although they have closed to within four hundredths of Tonga above them, as well as only eight tenths behind Scotland in 10th.
There were also four matches in the European Nations Cup 2014 which had the potential to impact the IRB World Rankings, but with two draws in the three Division 1A matches only Portugal improved their position.
Portugal drew 9-9 with neighbours Spain in Santiago de Compostela and climb one place to 22nd, swapping places with Namibia and regaining one of the positions lost after last weekend’s home loss to Russia.
Biggest climbers of the week
Spain stay 20th, one place behind Russia who were the only winners in Division 1A this weekend after a 43-32 victory over Belgium in Sochi, a result which leaves the Bears five points behind Georgia and Romania at the halfway stage of qualification for RWC 2015.
The clash of the Division 1A unbeaten sides Georgia and Romania also ended in a 9-9 stalemate in Bucharest, a scenario which means that the Lelos claim the 2013 title on point differential from their traditional rivals.
Georgia therefore remain the highest ranked of the European Nations Cup teams and have actually increased their rating slightly as a result of the draw away from home. They now sit nearly two points above Romania and within seven tenths of USA above.
The biggest movers of the last seven days though were Moldova, who climb three places to 37th on the back of a 37-12 win over the Czech Republic in their Division 1B encounter in Chisinau.
The Czech Republic had already fallen to their lowest ever position after defeat to Germany last weekend, but have now dropped another two places to 52nd with Papua New Guinea and Switzerland the beneficiaries this time.
The other European Nations Cup match on Saturday saw Cyprus overwhelm Bulgaria 79-10 in Division 2D, although this had no impact on the IRB World Rankings as the victors are not yet a Member Union of the International Rugby Board.
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