World Rugby: March 21, 2016 – For England and Georgia, the immediate post-Rugby World Cup 2015 landscape looked very different.
While England faced a rebuilding job under new coach Eddie Jones
after a bitterly disappointing early exit on home soil, Georgia’s focus
was on maximising the gains made at a tournament where they won two
games for the first time and directly qualified for RWC 2019 as a
Five matches and five wins later, both are in a similarly upbeat mood as they look forward to a testing summer.
England will head to Australia as the northern hemispheres
top-ranked team, after supplanting Wales, while Georgia cemented their
place in 12th with victory over Romania.
Ranked eighth at the start of the Six Nations, England have climbed
up to fourth on the back of wins over Scotland, Italy, Ireland, Wales
and latterly France.
During the course of the Championship England picked up a total of
3.29 rankings points to reflect the momentum gained under Jones, while
runners-up Wales lost a fraction under four-tenths of a point to drop to
A nerveless Owen Farrell kicked a penalty and converted both of
Englands first half-tries, scored by Danny Care and Dan Cole, as the
visitors took a 17-12 lead into half-time at the Stade de France.
Farrell remained as reliable as ever off the tee after the break but it
wasnt until Anthony Watson touched down for his third try in as many
matches that English nerves were put at ease.
Les Bleus had reserved their best performance of the Championship
until last but seven penalties from Maxime Machenaud weren’t enough to
prevent them from slipping to a 31-21 defeat which consigned them to
a bottom half of the table finish for the fifth consecutive year in the
One major positive for Wales through an up-and-down Six Nations was
the sight of George North back to his devastating best, the winger going
one better than Watson in scoring his fourth try in as many games in
Wales’ record 67-14 victory against wooden spoon winners Italy.
Jacques Brunel leaves his post as Italy coach with the Azzurri ranked
14th in the world. His native France are unchanged, too, in eighth.
Dethroned champions Ireland rounded off their campaign with a 35-25
home win over a Scotland side who, with the defeat in Dublin, were
denied a top half of the table finish for only the fourth time since the
competition was expanded in 2000.
CJ Stander, Keith Earls, Conor Murray and Devin Toner all struck with
tries as Ireland edged an incident-packed encounter, capitalising on
pivotal yellow cards for John Barclay and Alex Dunbar.
For Scotland, Stuart Hogg continued his hot streak of form with
another superb effort and the full-back was joined on the scoresheet by
Richie Gray and Dunbar.
Ireland began the Six Nations as the sixth-ranked team and end it in
seventh, while it is a case of as you were for Scotland who sit ninth
but with a slightly improved points total from the start of February.
EUROPEAN NATIONS CUP DIVISION 1A
Title-winning Georgia ended another dominant European Nations Cup
Division 1A campaign in style with a record 38-9 victory over rivals
Romania in front of a crowd of more than 52,000 at the Dinamo Arena in
It completed another clean sweep of wins for the Lelos for whom
Mamuka Gorgodze turned into a titanic display in his first outing since
Rugby World Cup 2015.
Despite having the better head-to-head record with 10 wins to
Romanias eight going into the match, the Lelos had never previously
scored more than 30 points in matches between the two.
Two tries from Anton Peikrishvili and one from Sandro Todua saw
them into a 19-9 lead at the break, all of Romanias points came from
the boot of Florin Vlaicu on the occasion of his 90th cap.
Tries for Giorgi Pruidze and Giorgi Nemsadze before the end of the
third quarter put the game beyond any doubt before a typically physical
game ended with a flurry of yellow cards and a last-minute try for Jaba
Georgia gain 0.41 of a ranking point but stay 12th, while Romania hold on to 16th place despite the defeat.
At the other end of the table, Germany held the higher-ranked Spain
to a 17-17 draw which proved enough for them to survive at this level
after relegation rivals Portugal lost 53-21 at home to Russia.
The Russians move above Uruguay into 19th place in the rankings as a
Germany will be joined in European rugbys second tier by Belgium after the Black Devils won promotion as Division 1B champions.
Belgium were already assured of the title going into their final
match against Poland and they came away with a 21-11 win and an
increase of just over three-quarters of a rating point.
With Germany only getting two hundredths of a rating point for their
draw with Spain, it was enough to take Belgium above them and into 23rd
place in the rankings. Germany and Hong Kong drop one place to 24th and
Moldova remain 32nd in the rankings after a 22-13 Division 1B win
against the Netherlands, who fall one place to 35th as a result with
Switzerland the beneficiaries.
Georgia photos credit: Gogita Bukhaidze