Seven of the top 10 teams find themselves in different positions in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini after the final round of Rugby World Cup 2023 warm-ups produced some eye-catching results.
It was a weekend of ups and down for all the top-ranked teams except Ireland, who remain at number one, Scotland who stay fifth following a 33-6 win over Georgia, and Wales who remain in 10th, their lowest-ever position going into a Rugby World Cup, having sat out the last round of matches.
Twickenham Stadium was the scene of not one but two momentous matches less than 24 hours apart as the All Blacks suffered the worst defeat in their history on Friday night before Fiji stunned England on Saturday.
And they were not the only matches that backed up the assertion this could be the most open Rugby World Cup yet as Samoa pushed Ireland to the limit in Bayonne, Italy beat the higher-ranked Japan, and while Georgia fell away against Scotland, they can take huge encouragement from leading their hosts 6-0 at half-time.
Having done just enough to see off Samoa and win 17-13, Ireland remain as the world’s number one team. But South Africa are now just 0.74 points adrift as their nearest challengers following their 35-7 win over the All Blacks.
The 28-point margin of defeat was the biggest in the All Blacks’ history and the loss of 1.71 points has seen their rating fall below that of South Africa and France.
South Africa and France, who defeated Australia 41-17 in the final RWC 2023 warm-up game in Paris on Sunday, each move up one place, to second and third respectively, with the All Blacks dropping to fourth, on 89.06 points.
Scotland are the next best team in fifth after they recovered from their slow start against Georgia to score 33 unanswered second-half points.
Fiji win has big implications
Argentina’s rating of 80.86 points remained untouched following a comfortable 62-3 win against Spain in Madrid. But with England losing to Fiji for the first time, Los Pumas have moved up to sixth.
Fiji’s 30-22 win over England, their first in eight attempts in test rugby, boosted their rating by 1.58 points with their beaten opponents losing as many in exchange. Fiji are now the higher ranked of the two teams in seventh, their best-ever position, with England a third of a point behind in eighth.
The only time England have been as low as this before was in the aftermath of Rugby World Cup 2015 when they became the first host nation to be knocked out in the pool stage.
After suffering their fifth consecutive defeat, Australia have also matched their previous lowest position with the Wallabies dropping down a place to ninth.
Asides from the RWC 2023 warm-up fixtures, the Sudamerica Rugby 4 Naciones came to a conclusion with a 41-22 win for Brazil in the title decider against hosts Paraguay.
Brazil have been rewarded for backing up last year’s win with a rise of two places in the rankings to 26th. By the same token, Paraguay fall two places to 39th.