Ireland up to seventh in IRB rankings
Rugby:The IRB confirmed this afternoon that Ireland have moved ahead of Wales up to seventh spot in the world rankings although Declan Kidney’s side will still have to beat Argentina next weekend to be certain of keeping their place in the second tier for the Rugby World Cup draw.
The winner of the match at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday should rest easy knowing they have done enough to stay in the second band of teams, but there will be nerves in the Wales camp ahead of two massive tests.
Wales, semi-finalists at last year's World Cup, have been in free-fall since claiming their third grand slam in eight years earlier in the year, suffering three narrow defeats to Australia followed by reverses to Argentina and Samoa.
Coach Warren Gatland, currently seconded to the British and Irish Lions, returns for a fortnight with the hope of shoring up his side's waning confidence, and secure a top eight spot.
Samoa’s shock win in Cardiff on Friday night sees the Pacific Islanders secure ninth spot, only .16 rating points behind the Welsh ahead of their final tour match in Paris. Six Nations champions Wales have the daunting prospect of trying to get something from consecutive games against the world champion All Blacks and Australia to probably avoid losing their place in the top eight and with it a probable tough pool
assignment in 2015.
A place outside the top eight means having to meet two big guns in the group stage of the World Cup, and with the rankings on December 3rd being used for the pool allocation draw that day, time is running out for those on the fringes.
Despite missing out on a record-equalling 17th straight victory after their 18-18 draw with Australia in October, New Zealand's status as top dogs in world rugby remains secure ahead of their remaining matches against Wales and England.
They have not lost a tour match in Europe since November 2002, a 31-28 defeat to England, and while not playing at the top of their game during wins over Scotland and Italy, their settled squad, which features only two news names in hooker Dane Coles and scrumhalf Tawera Kerr-Barlow, has been largely untroubled.
2 South Africa