While Ireland celebrated their third Grand Slam, Scotland were the only movers in the top 10 of the World Rugby Rankings following the final round of the NatWest Six Nations Championship.

As he has done so many times before, Greig Laidlaw stepped up to kick the last-gasp penalty that spared the Scots from defeat at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Gregor Townsend’s side emerging with the tensest of 29-27 victories.

The three-hundredth of a point on offer for their first away win of the season took Scotland above South Africa and into fifth, the position they were at the start of the Championship. Italy are also unchanged over the duration of the competition, in 12th place, but with 71.10 points instead of 71.25.

Having wrapped up the Grand Slam with a famous St Patrick’s Day victory over England at Twickenham, second place belongs to Ireland until at least the summer. As well as moving above England en route to the title, the five straight wins have boosted Ireland’s score to 89.11 leaving them 4.88 points adrift of the world’s number one team New Zealand.

Had it not been for Elliot Daly’s second try and a late effort from Jonny May, the 24-15 scoreline against England would have been far worse. A loss by 16 points or more would have taken them to within 11-hundredths of a point of Australia in fourth. As things stand now, that cushion is still only a fraction under three-quarters of a point.

In finishing fifth in the Six Nations table, their worst performance in just over two decades, England have slipped from second to third in the rankings and have lost 4.64 points since the competition began on 3 February.


Wales end the Six Nations where they started it, in seventh place but with 83.41 points compared to 82.08, while France, who they beat 14-13 at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, rose one place to eighth, mainly thanks to their win over England in round four.

Not many points were on offer for Georgia in the Rugby Europe Championship as they are by far and away the highest-ranked team in the competition, but they did accrue 0.16 of a point for Sunday’s 25-16, title-clinching victory against Romania. They remain in 12th place – five ahead of Romania, who celebrated qualification for RWC 2019 on the same day they lost Europe's second-tier crown to the Lelos.

Spain’s disappointing 18-10 defeat to Belgium handed the Oaks the Europe 1 ticket to Japan as well as costing them one place in the rankings. Los Leones drop to 20th with Russia, 57-3 winners away to Germany, replacing them in 19th.

Belgium’s first win over Spain in a dozen years and only their second ever was worth one and a half points but that was still not enough to lift them any higher than 25th.

Lowlands neighbours the Netherlands are hot on their heels in 26th, after a 27-10 win over the Czech Republic in Amsterdam kept their slim hopes of winning the Rugby Europe Trophy alive. Having finished their campaign on 19 points, the Dutch must now hope that Portugal fail to pick up any points from their final fixture against Poland away this Saturday.

Poland showed what they are capable of in establishing a 21-0 lead away to Switzerland, but the home side fought back to win a remarkable match, 30-21. Switzerland ‘s reward is a one-place rise to 32nd with the Czech Republic slipping below them.

Elsewhere, Malta moved up to 37th, a gain of two places, after wrapping up the Conference 1 South title with a 24-17 win away to their nearest rivals Israel, while Bosnia & Herzegovina edged out Andorra, 20-17, in the same competition. The victory saw them climb five places to 69th and leapfrog Saturday’s beaten opponents in the process.