England may have enjoyed the most emphatic win in the second round of matches in the 2011 RBS Six Nations, but it is France who take over fourth spot in the latest IRB World Rankings on the back of a 25-22 defeat of Ireland on Sunday.
France’s victory away from home at the Aviva Stadium against the sixth ranked side in the world improved their rating by almost 1.3 points, enabling them to climb above England, whose Chris Ashton inspired 59-13 defeat of 12th ranked Italy had no impact on their own rating.
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The defending champions are now the leading northern hemisphere nation in the IRB World Rankings, almost four tenths above England – the side they meet at Twickenham on 26 February – but just under three rating points still behind South Africa in third.
Ireland remain sixth despite losing a game in which they outscored their visitors by three tries to one, although the same cannot be said for the final losing side in the Six Nations with Scotland falling two places to ninth after a 24-6 defeat by Wales.
Wales’ win at Murrayfield ended a run of eight Tests without a victory dating back to March 2010 and brought them to within a tenth of Argentina above them, as both sides enjoy a one place gain at the expense of Scotland.
Belgium on the up
There was one other nation on the rise with Belgium climbing one place to 24th – their highest ever position since the IRB World Rankings were introduced in October 2003 – after beating Moldova 20-5 in their European Nations Cup 2012 Division 1B encounter in Brussels.
Georgia and Portugal also tasted victory on Saturday to remain the only unbeaten sides in Division 1A of the European Nations Cup after two rounds, although they stay 15th and 20th respectively in the IRB World Rankings.
For the second weekend in a row defending champions Georgia surpassed the half century on home soil in Tbilisi, following up a 62-3 opening win over newcomers Ukraine with an impressive 60-0 victory over Spain, scoring 19 tries across the two matches.
However, just as last weekend, convincingly beating a side ranked a number of places below them has had no impact on Georgia’s rating. The defeat, Spain’s second of the competition, leaves them in 23rd, albeit now with Belgium below them.
Portugal also remain stationary in 20th, although Errol Brain’s men have improved their rating after holding off a Russian fight back to triumph 21-19 away from home in Sochi. This victory, allied with a 24-17 defeat of another RWC 2011 bound side Romania last weekend, means they are now just over six tenths below Russia in 18th.
Romania, who lie between Russia and Portugal in the rankings, were due to have been in action as well this weekend, but their encounter with the Ukraine was postponed due to the bad weather in Kiev.
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