Wales not only secured the Triple Crown for the first time ever at Twickenham following their 19-12 victory over England on Saturday, but have also climbed above their neighbours into fifth in the latest IRB World Rankings.
The late try by replacement Scott Williams keeps Wales on track for the Grand Slam and has almost halved their deficit to South Africa in fourth, a spot that will be hotly contested over the coming months with everyone eager to be in the top band of seeds for the RWC 2015 Pool Allocation Draw.
England had themselves been closing the gap to South Africa slowly, but the first loss under interim coach Stuart Lancaster means they now lie almost equidistant between Wales above them and Argentina below in seventh.
These were the only positional changes in the rankings as a result of the third round of RBS Six Nations action, although France and Ireland did improve their ratings slightly after overcoming Scotland and Italy respectively.
France, the highest ranked northern hemisphere nation in third, had to dig deep to beat Scotland 23-17 at Murrayfield on Sunday, a result which increasing their slender cushion over South Africa to seventh tenths.
Scotland’s fifth successive Test defeat does not alter their position of 11th, but slips them further behind Samoa. This leaves only Italy, of the 12 nations to qualify automatically for RWC 2015, below them after they suffered a heavy 42-10 loss to Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.
The victory leaves Ireland in eighth, comfortably above Tonga below them but still eight tenths adrift of Argentina. Ireland, though, will be hoping to improve their position when they travel to France for their rearranged Six Nations match on Sunday.
Wales, though, were not the only team on the rise in the IRB World Rankings as Romania have also climbed one to 17th, swapping places with USA, after beating Russia 25-0 in their European Nations Cup encounter in Sochi. The defeat was a costly one for Russia as they have fallen two places to 22nd with Namibia and Uruguay the beneficiaries.
Spain have also improved their rating by six tenths after overwhelming Ukraine 41-6 in Division 1A, but they remain nearly three points below USA. Ukraine remain 32nd after the defeat, but now have only a two-tenth cushion over Zimbabwe below.
The other European Nations Cup matches over the weekend did not have any impact on the IRB World Rankings, Georgia beating Portugal 32-7 in Division 1A and Belgium overwhelming the Netherlands 58-3 in Division 1B.