Jubilant Wales have moved up to third place in the World Rugby Rankings after completing a 2-0 series win over Argentina - their first in the South American country since 1999.
After a 23-10 victory in the first test in San Juan, Wales backed it up with a 30-12 win in the second in Sante Fe.
Tries from winger Josh Adams and full-back Hallam Amos and 20 points from the boot of Rhys Patchell earned Warren Gatland’s side a win which, combined with South Africa’s defeat of England, lifts them to their highest position in the rankings since October 2015.
Wales, who started the year ranked seventh, are still some way adrift of second-place Ireland, who levelled their series with Australia with a 26-21 win in Melbourne. The Six Nations champions pick up 1.15 rating points to move to 89.20, three-and-a-quarter points more than their Celtic rivals.
New Zealand still sit proudly at the top, on 93.99 points, after seeing off 14-man France in Wellington. Benjamin Fall’s 12th-minute dismissal left Les Bleus with a mountain to climb but they battled gamely and the final scoreline of 26-13 in the All Blacks' favour was far more respectable than the 52-11 loss seven days earlier in Auckland.
South Africa leapfrog England in the rankings after defeating them 23-12 in Bloemfontein. The Springboks gain a fraction under three-quarters of a rating point for the victory to climb up to fifth, with Scotland also overtaken following their one-point loss to the resurgent USA.
Five straight international defeats have seen England slip to sixth place in the rankings, their lowest position since March 2016.
I’ve been in many games where @USARugby was close at the half. The match fitness, and ability to maintain a high level of intensity is the difference between then and now. The sleeping giant just twitched it’s leg a little. #excitingthingstocome https://t.co/7rXBwgRiTB— Paul Emerick IV (@paulemerickiv) June 17, 2018
EAGLES TAKE TIER ONE SCALP
Scotland’s first-ever defeat to the USA has cost them two full rating points and a one-place fall to seventh. The Eagles would have matched their best-ever position of 14th had Tonga not defeated Samoa in the final round of the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup. As it is, they are now just half a point behind the ‘Ikale Tahi.
In quite possibly their biggest victory since winning the gold medal at the 1924 Olympic Games, the USA claimed a prized tier-one scalp in Houston thanks to a brace of tries from Joe Taufete'e and one from Hanco Germishuys with the excellent AJ MacGinty kicking the rest of their points in a famous 30-29 victory.
While Fiji, Argentina, Japan and Georgia remain ranked between ninth and 12th, Italy are up one to 13th thanks to their 25-22 win over Japan in Kobe where two late penalties from Tommaso Allan proved the difference.
Meanwhile, Samoa’s 28-18 Pacific Nations Cup defeat to Tonga cost them nearly eight-tenths of a point and 16th place with Romania the side to benefit.
HISTORIC RESULT FOR RUSSIA
On a weekend of eye-catching results, Russia sent out a statement of intent ahead of their participation at RWC 2019 with an impressive 43-20 win over Canada. In what was their first-ever victory over the Canucks at the fifth attempt, Anton Rudoi led the way for Russia with three tries, while Aleksei Mikhaltsov got two.
The result cemented the Bears in 19th place but Canada drop down one place to 22nd with potential RWC 2019 global repechage rivals Hong Kong now above them in the rankings.
Portugal’s dream of making it to Japan 2019 is now over after Saturday’s narrow 16-13 defeat to Germany in the European play-off in Heidelberg. After dropping just over eight-tenths of a point, Os Lobos are now down to 24th place and below Namibia, whose quest to make it to a sixth straight Rugby World Cup tournament began with a 55-6 win over Uganda in the Rugby Africa Gold Cup.
Germany remain in 26th but are now just three-hundredths of a point behind Kenya, who start their Rugby Africa Gold Cup campaign against Morocco in Casablanca on Saturday. Morocco and Zimbabwe remain in 38th and 44th place respectively after their 23-23 draw in Harare.