Wales continue climb back up rankings

(IRB.COM) Monday 11 March 2013
 
 Wales continue climb back up rankings
Leigh Halfpenny kicked 23 points to help Wales to victory over Scotland

Wales are the only climbers on the back of the penultimate round of RBS 6 Nations matches, the defending champions swapping places with France to occupy fifth place in the latest IRB World Rankings.

The Welsh ran out 28-18 winners over Scotland in a battle of the kickers at Murrayfield and now sit just under five tenths ahead of France, who rescued a 13-13 draw with Ireland at the Aviva Stadium to ensure they will not suffer a whitewash in the 2013 Championship.

Ireland remain seventh despite the draw, having avoided sliding to their lowest ever position by avoiding defeat on home soil. Scotland remain 10th with the loss to Wales but have seen their advantage over Tonga below halved.

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England remain the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings after surviving a second-half onslaught by Italy at Twickenham on Sunday, but the result had no outcome on either side’s rating points. This means that England’s cushion over fifth place has shrunk slightly to 3.52 points.

There was more movement in the rankings as a result of the four European Nations Cup 2014 encounters on Saturday, although Russia were the only one of the eight sides in action to end the weekend in a higher position than they began it.

Vasily Artemyev’s try five minutes from time gave Russia some breathing space as they battled to a 31-23 victory over Portugal in Coimbra, a win which lifted them on place to 19th and above a Spain side crushed 61-18 by defending champions Georgia in Tbilisi.

Georgia remain 17th – and the highest ranked side in the European Nations Cup – but have slightly narrowed the deficit to USA above and their advantage over Romania below them after topping 60 points for the second time in a row against Spain on home soil.

The Lelos remain atop the Division 1A standings on point differential from Romania, who are also unbeaten in 2013 after battling past Belgium 32-14 in Brussels. The defeat on home soil sees Belgium fall one place to 24th.

Georgia and Romania will meet in Bucharest on Saturday to decide who will top Division 1A at the halfway stage of a competition that will provide the Europe 1 and Europe 2 qualifiers for Rugby World Cup 2015 in England.

Portugal, like Belgium, suffered a fall in the rankings after losing this weekend, dropping two places to 23rd with Uruguay and Namibia the beneficiaries with one and two place climbs respectively.

The biggest fallers of the week, though, were the Czech Republic, who slipped three places to 50th on the back of a 27-8 loss to Germany in Division 1B of the European Nations Cup. Germany remain 29th, albeit now only a quarter of a rating point behind Hong Kong above them.