England and Wales improve World Rankings

Rugby World Cup 2015 opponents England and Wales both improved their rating points on the final weekend of the November internationals, but not by enough to climb up the latest World Rugby Rankings.

England’s 26-17 victory over their Pool A opponents Australia did ensure they would finish the year in fourth position and not fall another place in November below the Wallabies, but they still remain 0.63 points behind Six Nations champions Ireland.

Wales also avoided swapping places with France for the third time in November after finally ending a run of 22 consecutive defeats against the southern hemisphere’s major nations with a 12-6 victory over South Africa at the Millennium Stadium.

The victory keeps Warren Gatland’s men sixth in the rankings with their rating having improved by almost a point after a month which saw them beaten by Australia and New Zealand but victorious over Fiji and the Springboks.

While Wales and England did not improve their positions with victories, the same was not true for Brazil as they rose two places to 35th on the back of a 21-13 victory over Paraguay in Sao Jose dos Campos on Saturday. The defeat condemned Paraguay to a one-place fall to 39th.

With RWC 2015 only 10 months away, the last few weeks of internationals across Europe have provided plenty of opportunities for sides to strike psychological blows against pool opponents or even to add their name to the mix as contenders for glory at rugby’s showpiece event.

Nothing has changed at the top of the rankings with New Zealand ending the year as the number one side for the seventh year in a row and, on the back of South Africa’s loss in Cardiff, their cushion has grown to 5.47 points over South Africa.

And while Steve Hansen was named World Rugby Coach of the Year again, two of his fellow Kiwis in coaching hot seats would have been equally happy with the performances and results of their charges in November.

Ireland’s revival under coach Joe Schmidt continued at pace in November with victories over South Africa, Georgia and Australia lifting the men in green to third place in the rankings for the first time since 2006.

The three wins at the Aviva Stadium improved Ireland’s rating by just over two points and ensured they will begin their defence of the Six Nations title in February as the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings, having lost just one match in 2014.

Scotland, under the guidance of Vern Cotter, claimed their biggest scalp of the month in their opening match against an Argentina side buoyed by a first Rugby Championship victory, playing an attacking brand of rugby that fans at Murrayfield have not witnessed for some time.

They followed that up with a comfortable win over Tonga and spirited performance against the All Blacks to mean that, despite not having improved their ranking of eighth, they will enter Rugby World Cup year with renewed confidence.

While Ireland and Scotland made progress, Australia’s new era under Michael Cheika began brightly with the win over RWC 2015 opponents Wales on 8 November lifting the Wallabies back to third in the rankings.

However, three defeats in a row by France, Ireland and England mean the Wallabies head home having dropped to fifth – equalling their lowest position since the rankings were introduced in October 2003 – and now two and a half rating points behind the Irish in third.

Italy did manage to end a nine-Test losing streak and record a first win of 2014 with victory over Samoa in Ascoli Piceno on 8 November, but they remain 14th and now have Georgia breathing down their necks with the Lelos less than half a rating point behind them.

Without their talisman Mamuka Gorgodze, Georgia had begun their November campaign with a loss to RWC 2015 opponents Tonga, but they signed off in style with a 34-25 win over Japan in Tbilisi to end the Brave Blossoms’ record 11-Test unbeaten run.

USA were another nation to make ground in the rankings in November with a 27-17 victory over Romania in Bucharest lifting the Eagles two places to 16th. Mike Tolkin’s men also pushed Fiji close in France and will end the year as the top side in North America with Canada down to 18th.

IRB World Rankings
Position (last week in brackets)

1 (1) New Zealand 93.70
2 (2) South Africa 88.23
3 (3)Ireland 85.48
4 (4) England 84.85
5 (5) Australia 82.95
6 (6) Wales 81.64
7 (7) France 79.66
8 (8) Scotland 78.78
9 (9) Argentina 78.23
10 (10) Samoa 75.39
11 (11) Japan 74.70
12 (12) Fiji 74.57
13 (13) Tonga 74.12
14 (14) Italy 71.19
15 (15) Georgia 70.76
16 (16) USA 67.61
17 (17) Romania 67.38
18 (18) Canada 66.83
19 (19) Russia 64.12
20 (20) Uruguay 63.58

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