Cape Town - Wales have climbed one place to fifth in the latest World Rugby rankings after a 23-16 victory over Ireland set up a thrilling climax to the Six Nations with three sides tied on six points.
According to the World Rugby website, the Welsh victory, in a match which saw Sam Warburton surpass Ryan Jones’ record for the most Tests as captain, leaves them, Ireland and England battling for the title this coming Saturday.
Wales’ climb comes at the expense of Australia, who have now fallen to their lowest ever position since the World Rugby rankings were introduced in October 2003.
Ireland remain the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings despite seeing their Grand Slam dreams end in what was captain Paul O’Connell’s 100th international.
Their cushion has been cut to 0.21 rating points over England, who ran out 25-13 winners over Scotland at Twickenham in the second match on Saturday.
England’s win over the Auld Enemy – which could have been much bigger after they wasted a number of try-scoring chances – had no impact on their rating due to the near 10 points separating the two sides.
France were the other Six Nations winners to keep alive their faint title hopes, beating Italy in an error-strewn match in Rome on Sunday. They have improved their rating by over a point, but remain seventh while Italy stay 14th.
Top 10 in World Rugby rankings:
1. New Zealand - 93.70
2. South Africa - 88.23
3. Ireland - 85.32
4. England - 85.11
5. Wales - 83.90
6. Australia - 82.95
7. France - 80.022
8. Argentina - 78.23
9. Samoa - 75.39
10. Scotland - 75.22