The Wallabies have moved one place up the World Rugby rankings after Ireland opened their Six Nations campaign with back-to-back defeats for the first time.
Not since the Irish went winless in the 1998 Five Nations had they lost their first two games of Europe’s premier international tournament, and they have suffered on the World Rugby rankings as a result.
Their 15-13 defeat to France at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday, their first home loss to Les Bleus in a decade, has seen Andy Farrell’s side, who also lost to Wales the week beforehand, drop from fifth to sixth on the rankings.
In doing so, they have swapped places with Australia, who haven’t played since their draw against Argentina in their final 2020 Tri Nations match in December.
They aren’t the only victims of their ill-fortune in the Six Nations, as Scotland have also dropped a place after their 25-24 defeat at the hands of Wales at Murrayfield in Edinburgh.
It was a disappointing blow for the Scots, who – like Ireland – found themselves a man down for just under half an hour after prop Zander Ferguson was sent from the field for a reckless clean out of Welsh prop Wyn Jones at the breakdown.
The result came a week after Scotland stunned England 11-6, beating their British neighbours at Twickenham for the first time since 1983 to give Gregor Townsend’s men a glimmer of hope for their campaign ahead.
Instead, they have fallen to fourth place on the Six Nations standings and to eighth on the World Rugby rankings, with Wales – who remain undefeated this year after a dire 2020 season – leapfrogging them into seventh spot.
The Six Nations will take a break this weekend before the teams return to action next week, with Italy hosting Ireland in Rome, Wales facing off against England in Cardiff, and France playing Scotland in Paris.
Victory for Wales might be enough to see them surge up the rankings again, depending on how Ireland fare at the Stadio Olimpico.
A win for the Irish in the Italian capital, as is expected, could also see them reclaim fifth place back off the Wallabies, who they trail by only 0.77 points.
England, meanwhile, will be eager to defeat the Welsh, not just because of their arch rival status, but also their third place ranking is under threat from the French, who will be favourites to beat Scotland at the Stade de France.
Do that, and France will be in contention to reach their highest ranking since March 2012 – provided England lose to Wales.
Should the latter happen, the English would challenge the All Blacks for their second place on the rankings, although they would still the world champion Springboks by a considerable margin.
Alternatively, victory for Scotland over Les Bleus may propel them ahead of Wales, and possibly even Ireland and Australia, given their away status for that match.
World Rugby rankings (1-10)
1. South Africa (N/C) – 94.20
2. New Zealand (N/C) – 88.95
3. England (N/C) – 87.49
4. France (N/C) – 86.42
5. Australia (+1) – 83.08
6. Ireland (-1) – 82.31
7. Wales (+1) – 82.11
8. Scotland (-1) – 81.29
9. Argentina (N/C) – 80.31
10. Japan (N/C) – 79.29
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