South Africa, England and Argentina all rise one place in the latest IRB World Rankings after victories in their respective November internationals on Saturday, although it is Bulgaria who claim the honour as the biggest climbers of the week with an eight-place elevation to 82nd.
The Springboks reclaim the second place they lost to Australia during the Tri Nations after edging another tight affair, this time with Wales 29-25 at the Millennium Stadium. The Wallabies slide one place to third following a 35-18 loss to England, who themselves rise to fourth at France’s expense.
France did taste victory over Fiji, but the 34-12 win against a side ranked six places below them did not have any impact on Les Bleus’ rating, meaning they surrender the tag as the leading northern hemisphere nation in the IRB World Rankings to England.
Argentina are the only other movers in the top 10, captain Felipe Contepomi kicking 17 points to help the Pumas to a 22-16 win over Italy in Verona. The victory takes Argentina above Scotland into seventh, despite the Scots not losing any points with an emphatic 49-3 loss to New Zealand.
The All Blacks preserved their unbeaten record against Scotland, recording their biggest victory at Murrayfield in the process, and Australia’s loss means their cushion at the top has grown by more than a point to 6.34 over the new second ranked side South Africa.
Wales remain ninth with the defeat by South Africa, losing half a rating point but still remaining more than three points above Fiji, the side they face at the Millennium Stadium on Friday. Twelfth ranked Italy lost a similar amount and now sit less than a rating point above Japan.
Canada and USA also improved their ratings slightly with victories over Spain (60-22) and Portugal (22-17) respectively, but remain 14th and 15th. There is no positional change for their hosts Spain and Portugal, who remain 23rd and 22nd respectively.
The penultimate qualifier of the Rugby World Cup 2011 process ended in stalemate with Uruguay and Romania drawing 21-21 in Montevideo. The result does not alter their positions of 21st and 19th respectively, although Uruguay do gain just under a tenth.
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Three of the four matches in the European Nations Cup 2012 on Saturday also had an impact on the IRB World Rankings, the exception being Armenia’s 15-12 win over Andorra as the victors are not yet a Full Member Union of the International Rugby Board and therefore not ranked.
Belgium’s 24-12 win over the Czech Republic in Division 1B sees them climb one place to 25th, swapping places with Morocco, to equal their highest ever ranking. Their hosts in Prague slide five places to 36th.
The other Division 1B encounter saw Moldova run out 36-25 winners in Poland, a result which sees them rise four places to 33rd and condemn their hosts to a four place drop to 42nd.
However, it is Bulgaria who are the biggest climbers over the last seven days on the back of an 18-8 victory over Luxembourg. The victory in Division 2D takes Bulgaria to a new high of 82nd and leaves their hosts Luxembourg stationary in 94th with only Finland below them.
IRB World Rankings
(Previous position in brackets)
1(1) New Zealand 93.04
2(3) South Africa 86.70
3(2) Australia 85.90
4(5) England 83.61
5(4) France 82.75
6(6) Ireland 81.05
7(8) Argentina 80.33
8(7) Scotland 79.81
9(9) Wales 77.67
10(10) Fiji 74.39