Ireland are the only climbers in the top 10 of the latest IRB World Rankings with a two-place elevation to fifth on the back of their 29-9 victory over Argentina in Dublin on Sunday.
The victory takes Ireland above France, who leaked 46 unanswered points in the last half hour to suffer a record 59-16 loss to Australia, and Scotland, the last gasp 19-16 win over Samoa having no impact on their rating of 81.20.
New Zealand will end the year as the number one ranked side in the world – as they have done every year bar a Rugby World Cup one since the ranking were introduced in October 2003 – after completing a third Grand Slam tour over the Home Unions in six years with a 37-25 win over Wales.
Australia’s emphatic victory in France ensures they hold on to second place, reducing New Zealand’s cushion at the top to 5.74 points in the process, with South Africa’s 21-11 win over England ensuring the southern hemisphere continue to occupy the top three positions.
Despite the loss, England remain fourth and the leading northern hemisphere nation, albeit now only by seven tenths from Ireland and with little more than a point separating Martin Johnson’s men in fourth from the Auld Enemy Scotland in seventh.
Argentina return home with only one win from three Tests in November and now more than two points adrift of Scotland with Wales and Fiji rounding out the top 10.
Fiji’s 24-16 loss to Italy means they sit just three hundredths above fellow Samoa, while the Azzurri’s win – only their third in 24 Tests – has seen them close to only seven tenths behind the two Pacific island nations.
A late James Pritchard penalty gave Canada a hard-fought 23-20 victory over Portugal in Lisbon, ensuring they bounced back from a defeat to Georgia to safeguard their position of 14th in the rankings.
Georgia, though, have climbed another place to 15th after completing a North American double with a 19-17 win over the USA Eagles in Tbilisi, Merab Kvirikashvili holding his nerve to convert Lekso Gugava’s last gasp try to seal the win and the place swap between the two RWC 2011 bound sides.
Romania had plenty to celebrate on Saturday after beating Uruguay 39-12 to claim the 20th and final place at Rugby World Cup 2011, but while the win in Bucharest has not improve their standing of 19th, it has closed them to within two hundredths of Russia above.
Their Rugby World Cup dream may have ended at the final hurdle just as in 2007, but Uruguay have actually climbed two places in the rankings to 20th as a consequence of defeats for Portugal and Namibia.
Portugal, who ended Uruguay’s dream to qualify for their first Rugby World Cup in 2007, remain 21st with mere thousandths separating them and Uruguay with Namibia dropping two to 22nd after defeat by Spain.
Spain’s surprise 33-20 victory over Rugby World Cup 2011 bound Namibia – who also lost to Portugal last weekend – still leaves them 23rd but now holding a two-point cushion over Chile below them.
The biggest movers of the week, though, are without doubt Germany, who beat the Netherlands 29-10 in Amsterdam to return to 30th, regaining all the six places they lost with defeat to Poland last weekend.
Defeat in the final European Nations Cup match of 2010 means the Netherlands drop three places to 42nd with Paraguay, Lithuania and Sweden the beneficiaries.
There are still three internationals which can impact the IRB World Rankings before the end of the year, with Hong Kong playing three matches on their European tour against Germany, Norway and the Netherlands in December.
IRB rankings on November 29, 2010
1(1) New Zealand 93.19
2(2) Australia 87.45
3(3) South Africa 86.44
4(4) England 82.48
5(7) Ireland 81.79
6(5) France 81.66
7(6) Scotland 81.20
8(8) Argentina 78.97
9(9) Wales 77.04
10(10) Fiji 74.05
11(11) Samoa 74.02
12(12) Italy 73.31
13(13) Japan 71.45
14(14) Canada 69.19
15(16) Georgia 68.21
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