England have increased their advantage at the top of the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini after the opening round of WXV 1.

The Red Roses’ 42-7 win over Australia did not improve their rating of 94.55 points, but the gap between themselves and New Zealand has grown after the Black Ferns suffered a rare defeat on home soil to France.

Les Bleues gained revenge for their one-point defeat to New Zealand in the semi-final of Rugby World Cup 2021 with an 18-17 victory on Saturday, in a match every bit as tight as last year’s encounter in Wellington.

With their 16-match winning run coming to an end, New Zealand’s rating has been cut by 1.72 points to 92.14, leaving them 2.41 points adrift of England on 94.55 points. In turn, France’s rating has increased to 91.35 points.

Meanwhile, Canada’s rating has marginally improved to 84.87 points following their 42-22 win over Wales in the other WXV 1 fixture.

There is now some considerable daylight between the top four – England, New Zealand, France and Canada – and the rest, with Australia ranked in fifth place on 78.97 points.

Wales are next best in sixth, on 77.82, with a 4.15-point gap between themselves and Italy, who have moved up to seventh after they made it two wins out of two in WXV 2 with a 36-18 victory over hosts South Africa.

The Azzurre lead the WXV 2 standings on points difference from Scotland and are also the higher-ranked of the two teams going into the final round, albeit by a slender margin.

Italy’s rating has increased to 74.24 points, lifting them above USA who were beaten 24-14 by a resurgent Scotland.

Scotland fell just short of the margin of victory required to also leapfrog the Women’s Eagles. Bryan Easson’s charges remain in ninth, but less than a point behind the Azzurre and only one-tenth of a point behind their beaten opponents.

With Ireland, Spain, Japan and Kazakhstan all winning against lower-ranked teams, no further changes have taken place although Las Leonas, who occupy 12th, did boost their rating by 0.21 points thanks to their 26-19 victory over Fiji in WXV 3.