England retain fourth spot in rankings
March 19, 2012
England celebrate Ben Youngs' score against Ireland © Getty Images
England have retained their top four spot in the International Rugby Board (IRB) world rankings after finishing second in the Six Nations Championship.
Stuart Lancaster's team are less than one ranking point behind South Africa in fourth spot despite finishing the tournament adrift of Grand Slam-winning Wales.
Warren Gatland's side remain fifth in the standings, with the next few months set to decide which sides will be seeded for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
England travel to South Africa in June, while Wales are on the road for a three-Test series against Australia. The top four sides in the IRB rankings will later this year headline the Pools for the World Cup, avoiding one another.
Ireland have dropped one place to eighth following their 30-9 defeat at Twickenham on Saturday, while there is further gloom for Scotland, who are now down to 12th - behind Tonga, Samoa and Italy - after losing all five of their games in the Six Nations.
New Zealand remain the comfortable rankings leaders, with Tri-Nations title holders Australia in second place.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The All Blacks' form is not a peaking issue, but Hansen must threaten to wield his axe, to demand improvement, Craig Dowd writes
"It has been the World Cup that smashed down the gender barriers of the sport." Tom Hamilton looks back at a remarkable tournament
A selection of the best pictures from England's historic World Cup triumph in Paris as they beat Canada 21-9
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Women's World Cup, the opening round of the Top 14 and the Rugby Championship