Wales end All Blacks’ 10-year stay at top of the rankings

Wales have climbed to number one in the World Rugby Rankings for the first time since they were introduced in October 2003 after their win over England ended New Zealand’s 509 consecutive weeks on top.

Even though the All Blacks retained the Bledisloe Cup with a magnificent 36-0 victory against Australia at Eden Park in Auckland, Wales knew any form of victory against England at the Principality Stadium in the later of the two kick-offs would see them overtake the world champions.

The result was in the balance right until the very end, but Wales held on to win 13-6, with George North scoring the only try of the game after collecting a perfectly weighted cross-field kick from man-of-the-match Dan Biggar.

England were kept pointless in the first half for the first time since they trailed France 16-0 in the Rugby World Cup 2011 quarter-final, but second-half pressure brought them two George Ford penalties.

With Wales’ rating now increasing to 89.43 rating points, three-hundredths of a point separates the Six Nations Grand Slam winners from New Zealand.

Ken Owens celebrating George North's try, in GIF form. Enough said.#WALvENG pic.twitter.com/xI50HkkYRC

— Sky Sports Rugby (@SkySportsRugby) August 17, 2019

Wales are only the fourth team to occupy the number one ranking, after England, New Zealand – for 88.29 per cent of the time – and South Africa.

The All Blacks responded to their record defeat to Australia just seven days earlier in superb style, running in five tries and keeping the Wallabies pointless for the first time in this fixture since 2012.

England, meanwhile, drop a place to fifth after being overtaken by South Africa, 24-18 winners against Argentina in Pretoria. It could have been a different story for the Springboks, though, with Los Pumas denied the chance to come away with a rare win on South African soil after a try was ruled out for obstruction earlier in the move.

France trade places with Scotland and move up one to seventh after an emphatic 32-3 win over Gregor Townsend’s side in Nice in which Maxime Medard bagged a brace.

Italy’s record 85-15 win over Russia did not have any effect on the rankings with the sides staying in 13th and 20th respectively. Matteo Minozzi marked his first test start on the wing for over a year with a hat-trick of tries and a day later was named in the Azzurri squad for the World Cup.