Defeats for England and Australia have seen Ireland equal their highest ever position of third in the latest IRB World Rankings, a position the men in green have not occupied since November 2006.
Ireland did not improve their rating by beating 15th ranked Georgia 49-7 at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, but the points lost by England and Australia as a result of defeats by South Africa and France respectively led to the changes.
The Irish now have a cushion of 0.62 points from Australia, who avoided a two-place fall to fifth by the smallest of margins after a 29-26 loss to France in Paris with the Wallabies sitting just one hundredth of a point above England now.
South Africa’s 31-28 win at Twickenham has strengthened their position of second place – some five points clear of Ireland – and closed the gap to New Zealand by nearly one point, although the All Blacks still sit 3.77 points clear at the top.
New Zealand did not improve their rating on the back of a 24-16 win over eighth ranked Scotland at Murrayfield on a weekend which saw the world champions celebrate five years as the number one side in the rankings.
While England have fallen two places to fifth on the back of losses to South Africa and New Zealand this month and lost their mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation to Ireland, they still sit 2.74 points above France.
Wales improved their rating slightly in seventh with the narrow 17-13 win over their Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool A opponents Fiji, a result which – in tandem with Tonga’s 40-12 win over the USA in Gloucester – sees the two Pacific Island nations swap places with the Ikale Tahi now 12th.
Argentina have climbed one place to ninth on the back of their 20-18 victory over Italy in Genoa on Friday. Los Pumas gained more points for that win and therefore climbed above Japan, who ran out 18-13 winners over 18th ranked Romania in Bucharest.
The only other positional change in the top 20 sees Russia climb one place to 19th – swapping places with Uruguay, the side who had ended their RWC 2015 dreams last month – following a 39-27 win over their Hong Kong, one which sees their hosts fall two to 27th.
There were three European Nations Cup 2016 matches over the weekend, although none resulted in any positional changes. Moldova and Belgium both improved their ratings after victories over Poland (48-25) and Ukraine (25-10) in Division 1B but remain in 28th and 30th respectively.
The final ENC match saw Latvia overcome Cyprus 39-20 in Riga in Division 2B, but that had no impact on the ratings as Cyprus are not an IRB Member Union. The win was significant, though, in that it was Cyprus’ first defeat since September 2008 and ended their run of 23 consecutive victories.