Tuesday, 22 October 2019 11:32

The top four nations in the World Rugby Men's Rankings will contest the Rugby World Cup 2019 semi-finals after South Africa climbed one place to fourth on the back of ending the dreams of hosts Japan.

New Zealand are the only team to remain stationary in the top five, increasing their rating by 1.5 points after sweeping aside Ireland 46-14 in the second quarter-final on Saturday.

England, their semi-final opponents, now lead the chasing pack after climbing above Wales on the back of their 40-16 defeat of Australia - the margin of victory meaning Wales would be unable to overhaul them even had they beaten France more convincingly than 20-19.

Ireland's defeat had lifted South Africa into fourth and they retain that position after beating the Brave Blossoms 26-3 at Tokyo Stadium.

Japan had briefly risen to their highest ever ranking after Australia's loss to England, but their defeat 24 hours later saw the Wallabies regain that place and France also climb one to seventh despite losing to Wales, albeit only because they lost fewer rating points than the Brave Blossoms.