The final round of Six Nations fixtures last weekend had further-reaching consequences than just the order of which team finished where in this season’s championship.
As it was, Ireland ended up in second place behind England having defeated the champions at the Aviva Stadium, and their overall tournament performance has seen them confirm a place among the top seeds for the next World Cup, as per the latest World Rugby Rankings.
Joe Schmidt’s side retain fourth place in the latest rankings, behind New Zealand, England and Australia, but the biggest movers (and not for the right reasons) among the top ten are Wales, who slip to eighth having lost in extraordinary circumstances to France last weekend. France leapfrog them into sixth, with South Africa remain in their record-low position of seventh.
Rob Howley’s men do, however, manage to avoid the prospect of a group of death by finishing in the second group of seeds alongside Scotland, South Africa and France. The prospect of a group of death does remain, however, with the presence of Argentina in the third group of seeds. Fiji, once again, round out the top ten.
Italy, by virtue of being a tier one nation, are entered into band three despite being below the likes of the aforementioned Fijians, Samoa and Tonga in the rankings table.
There were no other changes to the top twenty.
World Rugby Rankings (March 20th 2017):
1. New Zealand (94.78 points)
2. England (89.53)
3. Australia (86.35)
4. Ireland (84.66)
5. Scotland (82.18)
6. France (82.00)
7. South Africa (81.79)
8. Wales (81.36)
9. Argentina (79.91)
11. Japan (74.22)
12. Georgia (72.92)
15. Italy (71.17)
The draw takes place in Kyoto, Japan on May 10th.