London - Ireland will enter the Rugby World Cup 2019 pool draw in the top band of seeds for the first time since they were based on the World Rugby rankings following Saturday’s 13-9 win over England in the final match of the Six Nations.
By ending England’s bid for back-to-back Grand Slams and a world record 19th consecutive Test victories, Ireland cemented their fourth place in the rankings, ensuring they are in the same band as New Zealand, England and Australia for the draw.
The Springboks, ranked at No 7 in the world, are in Band 2 alongside Scotland, France and Wales and now face the dangerous prospect of possible being pooled with the All Blacks.
The 2019 RWC draw bands for the 12 directly qualified teams are as follows:
Band 1: New Zealand, England, Australia, Ireland
Band 2: Scotland, France, South Africa, Wales
Band 3: Argentina, Japan, Georgia, Italy
According to World Rugby’s official website, the seeding process has used the rankings since the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. At the time of the draws for the RWC 2011 and RWC 2015 tournaments, Ireland had a ranking of eighth and sixth respectively, putting them in the second band.
Had Ireland lost to England and Wales defeated France, as they so nearly did in Paris, that would have been the case again when the pool draw for RWC 2019 takes place in Kyoto, Japan, on May 10.
However, France’s last-gasp victory in the preceding match made the result in Dublin immaterial from a rankings perspective, not that you could tell from a fired-up Ireland side hell-bent on spoiling England’s party and having another celebration a day after St Patrick's Day.
The win over England earned Ireland 1.48 rating points to take them on to 84.66 - 1.69 behind third-placed Australia and nearly two-and-a-half more than Scotland who ensured head coach Vern Cotter signed off in style with a 29-0 win over Italy.
France gained 0.79 of a point and two places to move up to sixth in the rankings and third in the Six Nations table, swapping places with heartbroken Wales, who had victory snatched away from them when Damien Chouly crashed over in the 20th minute of added time and Camille Lopez slotted the conversion for a 20-18 win at the Stade de France.
Top 10 in latest World Rugby standings:
1. New Zealand - 94.78
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
10. Fiji - 76.46