Asia 5 Nations champions Japan look well placed to make an impact at Rugby World Cup 2015 after extending their winning run to 10 matches with a first-ever victory over Italy in Tokyo.
The Brave Blossoms’ 26-23 triumph lifts them up two places in the IRB World Rankings to 10th, with Scotland and Samoa, two of the teams they are paired with in Pool B in England next year, firmly in their sights.
Other than Japan taking Fiji’s place in the top ten there was little change to the standings of the leading nations after the latest set of fixtures. Third-placed Australia improved their score by 0.2 of a point after completing a series whitewash of France, while away wins for Scotland (v Argentina) and Samoa (v Fiji) have resulted in net gains of 1.15 and 0.99 points respectively.
New Zealand stay top of the pile on 93.81 points after equalling the record for the number of consecutive Test victories (17) with a comfortable win over England, and South Africa, last-gasp winners over Wales, stay second.
Argentina drop to 12th in the world, their lowest-ever ranking. Italy, meanwhile, remain in 14th but they lose 0.31 of a point after what was a ninth straight defeat.
Wednesday’s IRB Nations Cup win over arch-rivals Russia combined with Canada’s first loss to the USA in eight matches sees Romania swap places with the Maple Leafs to claim 16th place in the rankings. Romania went on to lose their Nations Cup title against Emerging Ireland, but that match did not count towards the rankings.
Uruguay move into 19th place at the expense of Russia after beating the Bears in the first match of the final round of Nations Cup fixtures in Bucharest. Los Teros won 13-6 in what could potentially be a dress rehearsal for the RWC 2015 Repechage final later this year.
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