Wales’ 22-9 Six Nations victory has had a knock-on effect on the latest World Rugby rankings – more specifically, South Africa’s ranking.
Having slumped below Scotland after their defeat at the hands of Vern Cotter’s side a fortnight ago, Wales clawed their way back up to sixth place in the latest rankings, and in doing so, have leapfrogged the Springboks who in turn fall to seventh, their lowest position since the system was introduced in 2003.
Allister Coetzee’s side have won just once in their last nine matches (including a surprise defeat to Italy in November), and this latest low is bound to increase the pressure on the coach.
Wales moving ahead of South Africa is the only major change on a week where margins became finer without having a huge impact. Scotland stayed in fifth place despite being demolished by England on Saturday, while Ireland remain in fourth but see their lead over the sides below them reduced ahead of the final weekend.
Six Nations champions England stay in second place behind the All Blacks, while Australia remain in third. France, Argentina and Fiji round out the top ten.
Top 10 in latest World Rugby rankings:
1. New Zealand – 94.78 points
2. England – 91.02
3. Australia – 86.35
4. Ireland – 83.18
5. Scotland – 82.18
6. Wales – 82.16
7. South Africa – 81.79
8. France – 81.21
9. Argentina – 79.91
10. Fiji – 76.46
Italy, meanwhile, will have yet more questions to answer regarding their status as a “tier one” nation. The Azzurri battled (as they have been doing throughout the tournament) against France at the weekend but the 40-18 defeat suffered to France sees them fall below Samoa to 15th place, three places below a Georgia side that is desperate for their spot at the top table.
The next (and final) round of fixtures in the Six Nations could have a big impact on the seedings of nations ahead of the pool stage draw for the 2019 World Cup on May 10th.