After a weekend that saw international rugby’s heavyweights slug it out, the latest IRB World Rankings show it’s very much round one to the southern hemisphere.
Victories for New Zealand, Australia and South Africa on Saturday mean those three sides retain the top three places in the standings.
Their respective opponents – Ireland (eighth place), Wales (fifth) and England (fourth) – stay as they were, leaving Scotland as the flag-bearers for the northern hemisphere.
The Scots’ 9-6 win over the Aussies in Newcastle earlier in the week translates as a one-place move up the table to 11th – at the expense of Italy, who suffer for their defeat by Argentina in San Juan.
The Pumas’ South American neighbours, Uruguay, are the big fallers in Monday’s rankings, dropping from 19th to 22 after defeat by Romania in Bucharest. The home side’s margin of victory in the Nations Cup fixture - 29-9 – exacerbated Uruguay’s drop as any difference of 16 or more compounds points lost through defeat itself.
In Tokyo, IRB Pacific Nations Cup action caused a shake-up on the edge of the world top ten.
Japan suffered another reverse after their defeat by Fiji early in the week, losing 24-20 to Tonga on Sunday. Japan therefore drop to 16th after starting the week in 14th place.
Samoa, who defeated Tonga early in the week, continued their good form by beating Fiji 29-26 – a win that moves them up a place to displace Tonga in ninth.
All but two of the world’s top 20 sides were in action, and during 2012 any week with so many IRB World Rankings-relevant matches are especially important.
In December the standings will determine the seeding for the 12 automatic qualifiers at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, with the top four nations at the end of the year guaranteed separate pools.
If the draw were made now, for instance, host nation England (fourth in the world) would avoid being in the same pool as one of the southern hemisphere top three.
Georgia up one in Europe
Georgia’s reward for their 33-3 win over the Ukraine is a one-place rise to 14th, just one spot behind Canada, victors over USA.
Slovenia forfeited their European Nations Cup play-off match against Denmark, so Denmark are awarded a 25-0 win under FIRA-AER regulations, which moves them up one place in the rankings to 61st. Slovenia remain in 79th.
Tunisia’s 27-13 win over Algeria and Cyprus’s 52-5 defeat of Finland do not count towards ranking points as Algeria and Cyprus are not full members of the IRB.
The IRB World Rankings are published every Monday at midday UK time.