Japan will be at their lowest position in almost eight years when the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini are updated at 12 noon (UK) on Monday.
Saturday’s 35-12 defeat to Fiji in Tokyo will see them fall two places to 14th, a position they last held at the end of August 2015.
For the second time in three matches, Japan lost a forward to a first-half red card and they were always up against it in their final home test before Rugby World Cup 2023.
Japan only have one remaining warm-up match, against Italy in Treviso on 26 August, to try and get things right before they face England, Argentina, Samoa and Chile in Pool D.
Whereas Japan managed to grind out a 21-16 win against Tonga a fortnight ago despite having talisman Michael Leitch sent off, Pieter Labuschagné’s dismissal in the seventh minute proved too big a hurdle to overcome against Fiji.
Japan conceded five tries, two to scrum-half Frank Lomani, but they will take heart from a strong finish which produced tries for wingers Jone Naikabula and Semisi Masirewa in the final 10 minutes.
Fiji’s third straight win under Simon Raiwalui, following earlier victories over Tonga and Samoa, would have lifted them up to ninth place in the rankings had Wales not produced their best performance under Warren Gatland since his return to the head coach job in defeating England 20-9.
But Fiji will have to settle for staying put in 10th place in what is an unchanged top 10. It would have been a different story, however, if France and Australia had hung on to big leads away to Scotland and New Zealand respectively.
Debut tries from Shaun Stevenson and Samipeni Finau saw the All Blacks rally from 17-3 down at half-time to win 23-20 and protect their 22-year home win streak against Australia as well as helping them to secure second place in the rankings.
France would still have taken their place as top-ranked Ireland’s nearest rivals had they won at Murrayfield but the Rugby World Cup 2023 hosts also let slip a big advantage.
Tries from Baptiste Couilloud, 20-year-old debutant Louis Bielle-Biarrey and Cameron Woki eased Les Bleus into a 21-3 half-time lead. But Scotland mounted a stunning fightback to win 25-21 with tries from Darcy Graham and Pierre Schoeman – either side of Zander Fagerson's red card – and substitute Dave Cherry.
Ireland preserve lead at the top
Ireland's lead over the All Blacks at the top of the rankings will still be 1.05 points after a solid 33-17 win over Italy in Dublin. Caelan Doris capped a player-of-the-match display with two of Ireland’s five tries.
The Azzurri are one of the few teams set to climb the rankings even though they were beaten, The defeat in Dublin didn’t cost them any points and their new rating of 74.63 points is fractionally better than Japan’s so they will move up one place to 13th.
Samoa’s 34-9 win against Tonga in Apia means they are also able to take advantage of Japan’s defeat and move up one place to 12th.
The only other positional change will come about as a result of USA’s impressive 31-17 win against Romania in Bucharest.
The Men’s Eagles fielded nine debutants in their matchday 23 as they began a new era under head coach Scott Lawrence in style.
With USA picking up 1.29 points for the win and Uruguay only receiving 0.21 points for a 26-18 home win against Namibia, the teams are due to swap places in the rankings with the new-look Eagles moving up to 17th and Los Teros down to 18th.
The only other match to have points riding on the outcome was South Africa’s encounter with Argentina in Buenos Aires.
Having scraped home by a point the previous week, the Springboks enjoyed a more convincing 24-13 win the second time around but the margin wasn't quite big enough for them to move above France and into third place.
Instead, they remain in fourth place with Argentina seventh, a point better off than Australia.