England, Ireland and France climb World Rugby rankings
Following the completion of the Autumn International Series World Rugby has issued its final set of rankings for 2021.
And despite finishing their year with defeat at Twickenham, it is 2019 World Cup winning South Africa who emerge on top of the pile two years before launching their title defence in France.
Jacques Nienaber’s team remain ahead of the All Blacks after following up their Rugby Championship win over their Southern Hemisphere rivals with wins in Cardiff against Wales and in Edinburgh against Scotland.
Since winning the Rugby Championship, New Zealand put 100 points on the USA in Washington before also racking up big wins over depleted Wales and Italy.
However, Ian Foster’s team have since suffered back-to-back defeats against Ireland and France and as a result now sit less than one point ahead of third-placed England who added the scalps of Tonga and Australia to their last-gasp Springbok success.
The third Southern Hemisphere super power, Australia, have slipped to sixth position after their under-strength side suffered consecutive defeats against Scotland, England and Wales – with the Cardiff and Edinburgh games decided by slender margins.
Ireland and France have both enjoyed successful Autumn campaigns during which they built on memorable triumphs against the All Blacks by remaining unbeaten. As a consequence both now sit ahead of the Wallabies in fourth and fifth positions.
Scotland finish the year in seventh after their Autumn series produced three victories and just one defeat.
Wales moved up one place to eighth after Wayne Pivac’s side sealed a dramatic 29-28 victory over Australia on Saturday following their 38-21 win over Fiji the previous week. Both games saw the home side’s opponents play with 14 for more than an hour following red cards for dangerous play.
Wales climb above Argentina after the South American side’s comprehensive 53-7 defeat to Ireland in Dublin yesterday. The Pumas, who last played a home game in 2019 due to COVID-19, lost all six Rugby Championship encounters plus two of their three Autumn internationals with their 37-16 success in Italy being their sole win.
Japan finish 2021 in tenth position despite defeats to Scotland and Ireland in recent weeks.
World Rugby Rankings
1. South Africa (90.61)
2. New Zealand (88.75)
3. England (87.83)
4. Ireland (86.53)
5. France (85.53)
6. Australia (83.92)
7. Scotland (83.05)
8. Wales (81.56)
9. Argentina (80.58)
10. Japan (78.26)
Join free and tell us what you really think!Join Free