Ireland have moved up to second place in the World Rugby Rankings for the first time since they were introduced in 2003.
Saturday’s 35-21 win over Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff earned them 1.13 ratings points, putting them a fraction ahead of Australia who jumped two places to third on the back of their Bledisloe Cup triumph against the All Blacks.
The Nic White-inspired Wallabies gained 1.61 points to move on to 86.84 points, 0.05 behind the Irish and 1.44 in front of England, the only top six side not in action at the weekend, who remain fourth.
For New Zealand it was their first defeat since they lost to South Africa a year ago and a disappointing way to mark Richie McCaw’s record-equalling 141st test appearance. It also saw their lead at the top of the rankings cut to 5.83 points.
Meanwhile, hat-trick hero Juan Imhoff helped Argentina to an historic 37-25 win over South Africa in Kings Park, Durban and a gain of two full rankings points. Los Pumas are now within touching instance of France in seventh place, the gap between the two nations now down to 0.57 of a point.
With a drop of three places from second to fifth, South Africa were the weekend’s biggest losers from a rankings perspective. Three consecutive Rugby Championship defeats have seen their rankings points total reduced to 84.37 points – 1.43 more than sixth-placed Wales.
World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup 2015 champions Fiji are now ranked ninth following Monday’s 39-29 title-deciding win against Samoa, while Tonga move up into the top 10 as a result of their victory over Japan in the third-place play-off with Samoa falling to 11th.
Any gains Japan enjoyed this time last year, when a record 10-game winning streak briefly moved them into the top 10, have largely been undone over the course of the last 12 months, as the Brave Blossoms now find themselves in 15th place in the rankings.
Japan are now just over two rankings points ahead of RWC 2015 Pool B opponents USA, whose second straight win over North American rivals Canada in Monday’s fifth-place shootout earned them 1.06 points.
Canada remain in 18th with a 2.44 points cushion over Uruguay with Namibia making up the top 20 after overhauling Spain thanks to Saturday’s 46-13 Africa Cup Division 1A victory against Kenya.