Any Welsh victory over England is wildly celebrated from Bangor to Bala, Cardiff to Carmarthen and Swansea to St Davids.

But on this day exactly one year ago, there was something other than border rivalry, a Triple Crown or a Six Nations title on the line.

For the first time in 134 meetings between the teams, the status as the world’s best team as measured by the World Rugby Men’s Rankings was also up for grabs.

Six Nations Grand Slam winners Wales and runners-up England, whose only defeat in the Championship had come in Cardiff, both went into the game with a chance to end New Zealand’s 509-week reign at the top, despite the All Blacks’ 36-0 win over Australia earlier in the day.

To achieve what they had never achieved before, all that Wales needed to do was win, while England needed to improve on their victory at Twickenham the previous Sunday (33-19) and finish a clear 16 points or more ahead of their opponents.

What happened was not a match for the purists but one that will forever be significant in Welsh rugby history as it led to them standing above all others once the revised World Rugby Men’s Rankings were officially announced at noon (BST) the following Monday.

The great redeemers

By making only three changes to the team that missed out on their first chance to top the rankings six days earlier, Wales head coach Warren Gatland said he was giving his players the chance to "redeem" themselves in Cardiff.

And they started off their bid to preserve their 10-match winning run at the Principality Stadium, a run stretching to 21 months, with plenty of intent.

Dan Biggar struck an early penalty to make it 3-0 to Wales before the fly-half set up a fine try for George North, while Anthony Watson was in the sin-bin, which he then converted to take the home side’s lead into double figures.

Defences dominated in the second half and England, despite boasting the best attack in the Six Nations with an average of five tries per game, couldn’t find their way over the try line as they had done on three occasions at Twickenham.

George Ford, who went into the match with an impeccable record of 10 kicks from 10 for the season in test rugby, slotted two penalties to reduce the arrears to four points.

However, Wales were in no mood to let their chance to make history slip again and Leigh Halfpenny marked his return from a long injury lay-off with the decisive penalty.

From seventh to number one

Wales’ victory completed an 18-month odyssey with a run of 15 wins from 16 tests lifting them from the lowly position of seventh to number one on the eve of Rugby World Cup 2019.

"It's a nice accolade to have but it's all about the next few months and backing it up in the World Cup. It’s just a number, isn't it? We won't be making a big fuss about it,” said Gatland.

With Wales’ rating up to 89.43 points, three-hundredths of a point separated them from New Zealand, but their reign at the top came to an end a fortnight later when they lost 22-17 at home to Ireland, with the All Blacks restored to their familiar position.

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