Ireland climb to fourth in rankings

(IRB.COM) Monday 21 March 2011
 
 Ireland climb to fourth in rankings
Brian O'Driscoll broke the Championship's 78-year try scoring record with this effort against England

Ireland finished their RBS Six Nations with a flourish by beating England 24-8 at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday to not only deny their visitors a first Grand Slam in eight years, but also to take over their position of fourth in the latest IRB World Rankings.

The victory, which secured third place in the Championship for Ireland, sees the Irish climb above both France and England to become the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings below New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

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Ireland still trail world champions South Africa by just under four rating points, but the battle for fourth spot in the rankings as the countdown continues to Rugby World Cup 2011 is now the tightest it has been for some time with only 0.45 points separating the Irish from France in sixth.

France did improve their own rating by nearly a point following a 28-9 defeat of Wales at the Stade de France in the final match of the 2011 Six Nations, an outcome which increases their cushion over the Welsh in sixth spot.

Scotland, meanwhile, picked up their first win of the Championship against Italy, the 21-8 success at Murrayfield enough to avoid the wooden spoon on point differential. The Scots remain ninth in the rankings, while the Azzurri stay 12th after failing to build on their historic win over France a week earlier.

There were also six matches in the European Nations Cup 2012 which counted towards the IRB World Rankings, although only four of them resulted in any positional changes with Moldova and Switzerland enjoying the biggest climbs of the week.

Moldova made the most of home advantage to beat the Czech Republic 24-16 in Division 1B and climb five places to 30th. They now sit only one place below the Czechs, who slip one to 29th with Brazil the beneficiaries.

Five place climbs in ENC

One of the sides Moldova climbed above was the Ukraine, who are still looking for their first victory in the top tier of the competition after losing to Portugal. The 46-24 defeat had no impact on either side’s rating, but while Portugal remained 20th, Ukraine dropped one.

Switzerland were the lowest ranked nation in action this week and now sit 61st after beating Andorra 21-9 in their Division 2B encounter in Nyon. Andorra slipped two places to 58th as a consequence with Malaysia and Venezuela’s benefitting from the Swiss victory.

Germany were another side on the slide, falling three places to 35th – only one place above their lowest ever ranking – following a narrow 28-25 loss to Belgium in the other Division 1B match. Belgium’s win keeps them top of the standings and also stationary in 26th place.

With Belgium leading the race to win promotion to the top tier, Georgia continue to set the pace, going through the first half of the two-year competition unbeaten after defeating their neighbours Russia 15-9 in Sochi.

Georgia, now unbeaten in six European Nations Cup matches, remain 14th after the win but slightly closer to Japan above them. Russia stay 19th, one place behind Romania who overwhelmed 23rd ranked Spain 64-8 in Bucharest.