On a busy weekend of Rugby World Cup 2021 warm-up matches involving four games in four different continents on the same day, there were wins for North American duo, USA and Canada, as well as New Zealand and Japan.

However, none of the four winning teams have improved their position in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini. Instead, the only upward movement comes about as a result of Ireland’s defeat to Japan in the second test, which cost them 2.72 rating points, with Italy and Australia benefitting from their two-place fall by climbing up to sixth and seventh, respectively.

In rankings terms, the last fortnight has seen Ireland take one step forward and two steps back. Greg McWilliams’ side moved up to sixth last week after a record 57-22 win over Japan but they are now down to eighth after a remarkable turnaround from the Sakura Fifteen saw them win 29-10 in the return match at the Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo.

The Sakura Fifteen gained as many rating points as Ireland lost under the points exchange system used in the rankings but were unable to catch Spain, the side immediately above them, and remain in 13th place, albeit only 0.14 of a point adrift of Las Leonas.

Hope springs eternal for USA in Edinburgh

Meanwhile, New Zealand wrapped up a 2-0 O’Reilly Cup series win over Australia in Adelaide but were made to work a lot harder for victory than the week before when winning 52-5 on home soil.

The Wallaroos put up much stiffer resistance and produced a performance full of pride in only losing 22-14 in what is their final hit-out before they meet the Black Ferns for a fourth time this year on the opening day of Rugby World Cup 2021.

No rating points were won or lost because of the outcome so the Black Ferns stay in second place, on 89.57 points, some 7.20 points behind England. Australia remain on 75.68 points but because of Ireland’s defeat, that tally is good enough for them to be ranked a place higher in seventh.

Similarly, Canada did not get any reward from the weekend as they also beat a side with a much lower score than them in the rankings in the form of Wales. The North Americans, ranked fourth, extended their winning run over Wales to six matches with a 31-3 victory in Halifax that will do much for their confidence heading to New Zealand for Rugby World Cup 2021. 

The closest match of the day came in Edinburgh as the USA put a poor run of results behind them to beat Scotland 21-17. Prior to the game the Women’s Eagles had only won one of their previous 10 tests but Hope Rogers’ second try – the only score of the second half – saw them buck the trend.

With a fraction under three-quarters of a point banked for the win, USA are now on 78.37 points but remain in fifth place. Scotland stay 10th despite a reduced score of 71.21 points.