France and Portugal have both climbed one place in the latest IRB World Rankings to fifth and 20th after victories over Scotland in the RBS Six Nations and Romania in the European Nations Cup 2012 respectively.
Les Bleus kicked off their quest to become the first to successfully retain the title after claiming a Grand Slam since the expansion to Six Nations in 2000 with a four-try, 34-21 defeat of Scotland at the Stade de France on Saturday.
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The victory was enough to lift France above Ireland, despite the latter having broken Italian hearts in Rome a few hours earlier when a Ronan O’Gara drop goal two minutes from time rescued a 13-11 victory at the Stadio Flaminio.
France now sit seventh hundredths above Ireland after securing more points for beating seventh ranked Scotland than Ireland did for edging 12th ranked Italy, albeit this is still just under a rating point behind England, the leading northern hemisphere nation in fourth.
Chris Ashton, scorer of the IRPA Try of the Year 2010 winner, scored England’s two tries as they overcame Wales 26-19 in the opening game of the Championship on Friday, a result which leaves the rivals fourth and ninth in the rankings.
However, France were not the only defending champions to make a winning start in 2011 with Georgia sending an ominous warning to their European Nations Cup rivals by overwhelming Division 1A newcomers Ukraine 62-3 in Tbilisi.
Georgia, one of three Rugby World Cup 2011 bound sides involved in the ENC top tier, ran in 10 tries – including a Davit Kacharava brace – but remain unchanged in 15th as a result of the 14 places and 13.86 rating points separating the two sides.
Eighteenth ranked Russia had held only a two hundredth advantage over Romania going into the weekend, but their 28-24 defeat of Spain allied with the Oaks’ 24-17 loss to Portugal means this has grown to eight tenths.
Portugal’s victory on home soil in Lisbon means they return to the top 20 for the first time since last May at the expense of Uruguay, the two sides having been separated by just thousandths of a rating point before kick-off.
The hosts did have to survive a mini Romania revival after tries from Pedro Silva, António Aguilar and Federico Oliveira gave Portugal a commanding 24-3 lead at half time, but they held on to make a winning start to the European Nations Cup 2012.
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|17 June 2013|
|17 June 2013|