Leigh Halfpenny’s last-minute penalty not only ensured that Wales start their RBS Six Nations 2012 campaign with a hard-fought 23-21 victory over Ireland, but also climb two places to sixth in the latest IRB World Rankings.
The successful kick means that the two sides swap places in the latest rankings, condemning Ireland to equal their lowest ever position of eighth, one place lower than they fell to after losing to Wales in the RWC 2011 quarter finals.
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The only other match to result in a positional change was England’s 13-6 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday, the home side’s failure to turn numerous attacking opportunities into points on the board resulting in a one-place fall to 11th and a place swap with Samoa.
This equals the lowest position Scotland have ever occupied since the IRB World Rankings were introduced in October 2003 and is the first time they have fallen outside the top 10 since the build up to Rugby World Cup 2007.
Defending champions England did improve their rating with the victory, but still remain two points behind South Africa and a place in what will become the top band of automatic qualifiers for the Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool Allocation Draw after the autumn internationals.
The opening match of the 2012 Championship – France’s 30-12 victory over Italy at the Stade de France – did not impact the IRB World Rankings, Les Bleus remaining third and 10.71 rating points above the 12th ranked Azzurri.
One side who did improve their rating, though, was Romania with a tight 15-7 victory over Portugal in the European Nations Cup on Saturday. The win on home soil in Bucharest only resulted in a slight improvement, enabling Romania to close to within 1.42 rating points of USA in 17th.
Portugal, who would have surged back into the top 20 with an away win, have seen their deficit to Chile double to 0.45 points with the loss, but they retain a cushion of just over two points from Belgium below them in 25th.
European Nations Cup champions Georgia were to have travelled to Division 1A bottom side looking to make it six wins from six in the two-year competition, but bad weather caused the match to be postponed.
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|19 March 2012|
|19 March 2012|