New Zealand complete the perfect year

(IRB.COM) Monday 25 November 2013
 
 New Zealand complete the perfect year
Julian Savea and Aaron Smith lead the celebrations after New Zealand snatched victory in Dublin

For the fourth year in a row New Zealand have finished their season as the number one side in the IRB World Rankings after a perfect record of 14 wins from 14 matches in 2013 resulted in an increase of 3.73 points to their rating.

This record – the first time a side in the professional era have gone through a calendar year with a perfect record – means their cushion at the top has increased to 4.47 rating points over South Africa, who themselves improved their rating by 2.4 points in 2013.

The world champions certainly left it late to secure another place in the history books, having to come from 19-0 down against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium with Aaron Cruden slotting the match-winning conversion of Ryan Crotty’s try with time up on the clock.

The 24-22 victory denied Ireland a first-ever win over the All Blacks and ensured that New Zealand did not slip up in the final match for the second year in a row after losing to England at Twickenham in December 2012, their only loss since the RWC 2011 success.

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While New Zealand and South Africa – who edged France 19-10 at the Stade de France on Saturday – remain stationary after their final match of 2013, Australia have climbed back to third after a 21-15 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield.

Australia regain the place they lost to England at the start of The Rugby Championship and re-establish the southern hemisphere triumvirate at the top of the rankings. England will remain the leading northern hemisphere nation in fourth with a near five-point advantage over Wales.

Wales have climbed one place to fifth after beating Tonga 17-7 on Friday. The win had no impact on their rating, but France’s loss to South Africa was enough to drop them below the Welsh, albeit only by just over a tenth of a rating point.

Samoa suffered a shock 16-15 loss to Georgia in Tbilisi, but are fortunate it has not affected their position of eighth with Scotland below them losing and Argentina only beating Italy 19-14 in Rome. The biggest win in their history, though, lifts Georgia one place back to 16th.

Argentina’s first victory since they beat Georgia in June still leaves them 10th, albeit now just 0.12 behind Scotland above them. The defeat is a costly one for Italy as they slip two places to 13th with Fiji taking over their 11th position after a 26-7 win over Romania in Bucharest.

Japan and Canada remain 14th and 15th respectively after wins over Spain (40-7) and Portugal (52-8) respectively, while Romania fall one to 17th as a result of their defeat and Georgia’s win.

USA now sit just six hundredths behind Romania after beating Russia 28-7 at Allianz Park in London, a result which  now means the Eagles have a cushion over more than six rating points over their opponents in the rankings.

The final movement in the top 20 sees Uruguay climb above Spain into 20th, although only by just over a tenth. Portugal stay 22nd, and a little over a point behind their neighbours, after ending their year with a heavy loss to Canada.

There was one match in the European Nations Cup which also had an impact on the rankings with Andorra beating Denmark 22-11 in Division 2B to climb one place to 62nd and condemn their visitors to a four-place fall to 71st.

The only other change in the rankings come as a result of Indonesia’s entry after they became a Full Member of the International Rugby Board last week. Indonesia enter with a rating of 30.00 which puts them joint 97th and results in a one-place fall for both Mauritius and Finland.