A strong second half saw Rugby World Cup 2015 hosts England storm back to beat Wales 21-16 in their Six Nations opener in Cardiff, a result which lifted them above Ireland back to third in the latest World Rugby Rankings.
The victory sees England regain the mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings behind New Zealand and South Africa and they now sit 0.35 points above Ireland after their 26-3 victory over Italy in Rome had no impact due to the 11 places separating the teams.
Wales stay sixth despite the defeat by their RWC 2015 opponents at the Millennium Stadium, although now have France breathing down their necks after Philippe Saint-André’s side edged Scotland 15-8 at the Stade de France on Saturday.
That win cuts the deficit between the two teams to just under four tenths and also sees Scotland slip one place to ninth with Argentina the beneficiaries of France’s victory.
Ireland may not have improved their rating with the victory over Italy, but it will have been a morale-boosting result against one of their RWC 2015 opponents. They will face another Pool D rival in France this coming weekend in Dublin and will hope for another victory as England 2015 looms large.
Georgia, like Six Nations champions Ireland, did not improve their rating points despite beginning the defence of their European Nations Cup title with a resounding 64-8 victory over Germany in Heusenstamm on Saturday as a result of the 10 places between the teams.
The Lelos remain 15th but now have Romania – who will face Ireland, France and Italy along with Canada in Pool D at RWC 2015 – as the side directly below them after the Oaks swapped places with the USA on the back of a 37-10 win over Portugal in Lisbon.
Portugal fall one place to 23rd as a result with Namibia the beneficiaries.
The other positional change sees Russia fall one place to 20th, falling below their RWC 2015 repechage conquerors Uruguay, following a 43-20 loss to Spain in Madrid. Spain did not improve their position of 21st, but did close to within four tenths of the Russians.