With close to 100 test matches played throughout a ground-breaking year for women’s rugby it comes as no surprise that there has been plenty of movement in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini over the last 12 months.
The introduction of WXV, World Rugby’s new annual global women’s 15s competition, and the associated regional qualifying tournaments has led to a more comprehensive fixture calendar and therefore more opportunities for nations to pick up rating points along the way.
As 2023 draws to a close, the top four ranked nations are still where they were at the start of the year although England’s Red Roses, the world number one, have increased their rating to 96.18 points.
With New Zealand in second place dropping 2.63 points after a disappointing WXV 1 campaign on home soil, the gap between the two nations has increased to a sizeable 5.62 points.
France hang on to third place despite losing 1.79 points, while Canada, in fourth, had a fractionally bigger gain of 1.85 points after finishing as runners-up to England in WXV 1.
Three wins and a third-place finish in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations 2023 helped Wales to improve their rating by nearly four points, which lifted them up three places to sixth in the rankings.
The three-place rise was matched only by Portugal and Tunisia in 2023.
Scotland on the rise
Scotland’s renaissance under Bryan Easson was reflected by the biggest increase in rating of 5.66 points.
The WXV 2 winners, who finished a creditable fourth in the 2023 Women’s Six Nations, went from having 68.71 points at the start of the year to 74.37 at the year’s end, which led to them moving up from 10th to eighth.
Wales and Scotland’s success coincided with a downturn in Italy’s fortunes in terms of the rankings, even though the Azzurre bounced back from finishing second from bottom in the Women’s Six Nations standings with three straight wins in WXV 2.
Over the course of the year Italy lost a fraction over three points which saw them finish the year in seventh, down two places.
Similarly, USA lost ground to the tune of two places having had nearly five points knocked off their rating.
The Women’s Eagles will enter 2024 residing in ninth place, one above Ireland, who fell two places despite winning WXV 3.
Outside of the top 10, Portugal made big strides forward after winning the Rugby Europe Women’s Trophy and promotion to the Rugby Europe Women’s Championship 2024.
The triumphant Trophy campaign was then followed by a drawn series with Brazil, and with four wins from five, Portugal gained 2.39 points and three places.
Tunisia’s success in moving up from 33rd to 30th, meanwhile, came about as a result of their 2-0 series win over Uganda, who experienced the biggest fall of all the nations, plummeting five places to 40th.