Wales have climbed one place to fifth in the latest World Rugby Rankings after a 23-16 victory over Ireland set up a thrilling climax to the RBS 6 Nations with three sides tied on six points.
The Welsh victory, in a match which saw Sam Warburton surpass Ryan Jones’s record for the most tests as captain, leaves them, Ireland and England battling for the title this coming Saturday.
Wales’ climb comes at the expense of Australia, who have now fallen to their lowest ever position since the World Rugby Rankings were introduced in October 2003.
Ireland remain the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings despite seeing their Grand Slam dreams end in what was captain Paul O’Connell’s 100th international.
Their cushion has been cut to 0.21 rating points over England, who ran out 25-13 winners over Scotland at Twickenham in the second match on Saturday.
England’s win over the Auld Enemy – which could have been much bigger after they wasted a number of try-scoring chances – had no impact on their rating due to the near 10 points separating the two sides.
France were the other Six Nations winners to keep alive their faint title hopes, beating Italy in an error-strewn match in Rome on Sunday. They have improved their rating by over a point, but remain seventh while Italy stay 14th.
The four European Nations Cup 2016 matches over the weekend did have some impact with Belgium the biggest movers of the last seven days after their 17-14 win over Division 1B leaders Moldova in Brussels.
That victory lifts Belgium two places to 27th – above Zimbabwe and Hong Kong – and leaves Moldova in 30th, albeit much closer now to Kenya below.
The only other positional change came as a result of Portugal’s 19-8 loss to Spain on home soil in Coimbra. The Portuguese have slipped one place to 23rd with RWC 2015 bound Namibia the beneficiaries. Spain remain 21st after the Division 1A victory in the Iberian derby.
Georgia ran out 33-0 winners over 19th-ranked Russia in Tbilisi, but only improved their rating by less than a tenth. They are still closer to Italy above them in 14th than they began the weekend after the Azzurri lost to France.
Romania, like Georgia counting down the days until RWC 2015 in England, had to dig deep to edge Germany 17-12 in Heidelberg, a result which resulted in a gain of less than a tenth to leave them stationary in 17th.