Somewhat surprisingly given the volume of matches that took place over the weekend, there is very little change to the World Rugby Rankings with Australia and Fiji the only nations improving their positions.

Captain David Pocock’s 71st-minute try proved the difference as the Wallabies edged out Ireland 18-9 in a titanic tussle in Brisbane. In ending Ireland’s 12-match winning run Michael Cheika’s side pick up 1.07 points which takes them above England and into third.

For now, Ireland are safe in second place, behind New Zealand who turned in a second-half masterclass to beat France 52-11, but the difference between the Six Nations champions and the Wallabies is now down to one and a half points.

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The All Blacks scored 44 unanswered points in the second half in Auckland to start their international season with a bang. However, the win did not come with any reward from a rankings point of view due to the near 15-point gap between themselves and Les Bleus who threatened to cause an upset when they led 11-8 at half-time.

Two-year low for England

For the first time in two years, England find themselves down to fourth in the rankings. Eddie Jones’ side had looked set to end their recent run of bad results as they raced into a 24-3 lead playing some superb rugby but, inspired by returning scrum-half Faf de Klerk and a brace of tries from debutant winger S’Busiso Nkosi, South Africa rallied magnificently to win a 10-try, Ellis Park classic 42-39.

The jubilant Springboks picked up just over one rating point for the home win but stay in seventh place behind Scotland, the Scots having beaten Canada 48-10 in Edmonton. In that match, George Turner became the first Scotland player to score a hat-trick for over a decade.

Not many people backed Wales to come away with a win over Argentina in San Juan given some of their high-profile absentees and the form of Los Jaguares, Argentina’s Super Rugby outfit. But Warren Gatland’s young side stepped up to the mark to register their first win on Argentinian soil in 14 years, James Davies and George North scoring their tries.

A win by a greater margin than 20-10 would have taken them above England. As it is, they are now just six-hundredths of a point behind their neighbours in fifth. Argentina’s loss of two-thirds of a rating point drops them to 10th, below Fiji.

Fiji flying high

In climbing to ninth, Fiji have matched their all-time best position in the rankings. John McKee’s side maintained their rating score of 77.93 points with an edgy 24-22 victory over Samoa in the opening round of the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup. Earlier in Suva, Georgia narrowly beat Tonga 16-15 to remain one place above the ‘Ikale Tahi in 12th.

Japan are unchanged in 11th after scoring four scintillating tries in a 34-17 win over Italy that would have whetted the appetite of local fans ahead of next year’s home Rugby World Cup. Their eighth defeat in a row leaves the Azzurri 14th in the world, and with just one win in their last 18 matches.

USA are now breathing down their necks having kept their unbeaten record against Russia intact with a convincing 62-13 win in Colorado. Hooker Joe Taufete’e and winger Marcel Brache scored two tries each.

Elsewhere, the Cayman Islands began their Rugby Americas North Championship campaign with a nervy 20-19 win against bottom-ranked Bermuda. Neither country’s ranking was affected by the result.

Finland’s 12-try, 77-10 victory away to Estonia in Rugby Europe’s Conference 2 North did not count towards the rankings as Estonia are not full members of World Rugby.