New Zealand have returned to the top of the IRB World Rankings following a weekend of internationals which saw numerous changes to the Top 10 with only Australia remaining static in third place.
The All Blacks did not improve their own rating with a 20-6 victory over Italy at the San Siro Stadium in Milan, but regain the place they lost in July as a result of South Africa suffering a 20-13 loss to France in Toulouse.
New Zealand now have a 0.55 point advantage over the side that beat them three times in the Tri Nations with the Wallabies more than four points adrift of South Africa after a 20-20 draw with Ireland in Dublin.
Despite seeing victory snatched from their grasp by Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll's last minute try at Croke Park on Sunday, Australia increase their rating points by seven hundredths to 85.63.
The draw though means Ireland have lost their mantle as the leading northern hemisphere nation with France assuming fourth place, albeit by mere thousandths with both sitting on 83.20 points.
England's 16-9 victory over Argentina sees them climb two places to sixth with the Pumas and Wales - the 17-13 conquerors of Samoa on Friday - both slipping one as a result.
Only a tenth now separates Wales and Argentina ahead of their meeting in Cardiff this weekend. Wales still have a cushion of more than four points over Scotland, who swap places with Fiji after beating the islanders 23-10 at Murrayfield.
New high for Japan
There are also two further changes in the Top 20 of the IRB World Rankings with Japan and USA both climbing one place after victories over Canada and Uruguay respectively over the weekend.
Japan have taken over 13th place from Canada after the Brave Blossoms' emphatic 46-8 victory over their visitors in Sendai on Sunday. This is the highest position John Kirwan's side have ever occupied in the rankings.
There was better news for the other North American side in action as USA held off a spirited Uruguay fight back to win the first leg of their Rugby World Cup 2011 qualification play-off in Montevideo 27-22.
This narrow victory is just enough - by two hundredths - to lift the Eagles above Georgia into 17th spot. The Lelos were in action at the weekend, but only in a friendly against Argentina Jaguars in Tbilisi, a match they won 24-22.
Uruguay scored 13 points in the last six minutes in Montevideo to bolster their RWC 2011 qualification hopes, but remain 20th in the IRB World Rankings, albeit now further adrift of Romania and only seven tenths above Portugal.
The other Rugby World Cup 2011 qualifier yielded a first ever win for Namibia on Tunisian soil, the 18-13 first leg victory enough to see them climb one place to 22nd at the expense of Spain. Tunisia's defeat sees them fall two to 30th with Kazakhstan and Brazil the beneficiaries.
Dream ends for Czechs
Another side to slide after a RWC 2011 qualifier defeat was Czech Republic, who were beaten 45-30 by Moldova in their European Nations Cup Division 2A encounter in Chisinau.
The defeat ends the Czech Republic's hopes of topping the Division to earn an immediate return to the top tier and a European round four play-off against Lithuania in the quest to reach the RWC 2011 cross-continental play-off.
Moldova's hopes had already ended before the victory, but they have climbed four places in the IRB World Rankings - above Ivory Coast, Croatia, Uganda and Kenya - with the Czech Republic falling three to 36th.
The only other match to impact the IRB World Rankings over the weekend another European Nations Cup affair with Norway's 12-9 victory in Austria resulting in one place climb to 78th. Austria slide two to 92nd.
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|30 September 2013|
|30 September 2013|