New Zealand cement place at top of rankings

(IRB) Monday 18 November 2013
 
 New Zealand cement place at top of rankings
Julian Savea scored two tries to help ensure New Zealand's anniversary was marked with a victory

New Zealand marked four years at the summit of the IRB World Rankings on Saturday by consolidating their top spot with a 30-22 win over England.

The All Blacks have occupied the No.1 spot since 16 November 2009 and for more than 80 per cent of the time since the rankings were introduced in October 2003, and the Twickenham success means they now boast 93.81 ranking points.

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This means a slight increase in their cushion over South Africa - pushing it beyond five rating points - after the Springboks ran out 28-0 winners over Scotland on Sunday. This latest win increases South Africa's advantage over England in third to more than more than three points.

England have now finished their November internationals and are in danger of losing that third position, sitting as they do just five hundredths above Australia, who have two matches remaining after beating Ireland 32-15 in Dublin.

Defeat means the men in green slide from sixth to seventh, swapping places with Wales, who beat Argentina 40-6 win at the Millennium Stadium to record their first November international victory in four years.

Pumas hold station

Otherwise the top 10 is unchanged, with the Pumas holding their position of 10th despite the defeat in Cardiff.

France’s 38-18 win over Tonga in Le Havre has no bearing on either side's rating as a result of the eight places and more than eight rating points separating the two teams. However, Tonga do climb one place to 12th as a result of Fiji's 37-31 defeat in Italy.

Romania are steadily inching up the rankings after beating Canada 21-20 with practically the last kick of the game – as they had done against Tonga a week before.

Down to the wire

The result lifts them one place to 16th at the expense of Georgia, whose match against USA also came down to the wire, the Eagles winning 25-23 after landing a penalty with the final act of the match. It was Eagles' first victory of 2013, but despite the 1.7 rating point gain they remain 18th.

Outside of the top 20, it was a disappointing week for Kenya and Brazil, who both slipped three places after losing to Namibia and Portugal respectively.

Portugal triumphed 68-0 in Sao Paulo but remain 22nd, while Brazil slide to 37th. Kenya are down to 34th after losing twice in the last seven days, 29-14 to Zimbabwe and 55-35 to Namibia in the Tri Nations Rugby Series in Windhoek.

As a result Zimbabwe climb two places to 30th, while Namibia are unchanged in 23rd but able to celebrate winning the triangular tournament against two of the sides they will face in the final stage of African qualification for Rugby World Cup 2015 next year.

Uruguay were another side to come from behind to taste victory, beating Spain 16-15 in Montevideo. Spain remain the higher ranked of the sides in 20th, but Los Teros are now less than a fifth of a ranking point behind them. Japan, meanwhile, stay 14th after beating Russia 40-13 in the IRB International Rugby Series in Colwyn Bay, north Wales, on Friday.

Final qualifiers

In the European Nations Cup, the two Division 1B matches were the final Rugby World Cup 2015 qualifiers of the year.

Moldova secured a vital win by beating top of the table Germany 30-15, closing to four points behind them in division and ensuring there is everything to play for in 2014, and as a result climb one place to 28th, just two places behind Germany. A 17-10 victory over the Czech Republic means the Ukraine climb two to 33rd and their opponents fall by as many places to 48th.

In Division 2A, a 20-20 draw means the Netherlands drop one place to 31st and Switzerland stay 39th.

The first Division 3 match saw Slovakia beat Azerbaijan 18-10 in Bratislava, but this has no bearing on the rankings as the latter are not yet a Full Member Union of the International Rugby Board and therefore not ranked.