England are now the leading northern hemisphere nation in the IRB World Rankings after climbing two places to fourth on the back of their 24-22 away victory over France in the RBS 6 Nations on Sunday.
The victory has seen the two sides swap places with England now occupying the position the other nations crave in order to avoid the prospect of being drawn in the same pool as defending champions New Zealand, Australia or South Africa in the RWC 2015 Pool Allocation Draw.
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England last occupied fourth spot before their Rugby World Cup 2011 quarter-final defeat to France and by avenging that loss have ensured that Les Bleus have slipped three places in the space of two weeks after failing to win on home soil against Ireland or England.
Wales have remained stationary in fifth despite keeping their Grand Slam dreams alive with a 24-3 victory over Italy at the Millennium Stadium, a consequence of being the home side and ranked seven places and 9.29 points above the Azzurri.
The Welsh now face a Grand Slam decider against the wounded French with only one hundredth separating the two sides, and given they lie only three tenths behind England they could have more to celebrate than the coveted clean sweep.
Seventh ranked Ireland have inched a little clear of Argentina on the back of a 32-14 defeat of Scotland at the Aviva Stadium, but still lie two points shy of France above them. Scotland remain 11th, now only 1.36 points ahead of Italy before their wooden spoon decider in Rome.
Germany the biggest climbers
The five European Nations Cup matches over the weekend also resulted in a number of changes to the IRB World Rankings with Germany the biggest climbers of the last seven days after rising four places to 32nd on the back of a 20-17 victory over the Czech Republic.
Germany’s win in Prague means that Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Brazil and Sweden all fall one place, while Tunisia and Kenya are the beneficiaries of the Czech Republic’s two place drop to 39th after their Division 1B defeat.
Romania are another side to fall, slipping back once again below USA to 18th, after losing their Division 1A encounter with defending champions Georgia 19-13 in Bucharest. Georgia remain 15th, the margin of victory not enough to have lifted them above Japan.
The two other Division 1A matches did not result in any positional changes in the rankings, although Portugal have inched closer to Chile above them in 23rd after beating neighbours Spain 23-17. Spain stay 19th, albeit only three tenths above Namibia.
Russia bounced back to winning ways with a 38-19 victory over Ukraine, but the result had no impact on the rankings with the home side ranked 10 places and 7.52 points above their opponents. Ukraine, though, fell one to 33rd as a result of Germany’s climb.
Belgium were the other European Nations Cup winners, edging Moldova 17-16 to stay top of Division 1B. The victory leaves Belgium 25th, slightly further behind Portugal, while Moldova fall one to 29th with Poland the beneficiaries.