IRELAND women’s rugby team has placed fourth in the first ever world rankings for women’s Test rugby.
Tom Tierney’s side place just behind four-time world champions New Zealand, who top the list, France are second and World Cup holders England are third.
Wales have placed tenth and Scotland 13th in the inaugural grading.
The rankings take into account every result from the first official women’s international matches dating back to 1987 and are based on the same criteria as the men’s rankings.
“It’s a positive step for one of the fastest growing team sports in the world, as it brings parity with the men’s game,” said World Rugby chairman Bernard Lapasset.
“World Rugby is committed to driving forward the competitiveness of the women’s game and the new rankings are yet another significant milestone.”
In future, Tests points awarded to teams will be dependent on the difference in ranking points between the teams.
Ireland kick-off the defence of their Six Nations title against Wales in Donnybrook on Saturday, February 6 at 1pm.
Six interesting facts about the Ireland Women’s Rubgy:
Seven uncapped players will be hoping to make their international debut in the Six Nations campaign
The team will play their home games at 6,000-seat Donnybrook Stadium this season, however, the capacity is still dwarfed by the 50,000-seat Aviva Stadium where the men’s team will host visiting teams
Captain Niamh Briggs is a former Co. Waterford Gaelic footballer who works as a Garda in Co. Limerick where she plays for UL Bohemians
Like the men, Ireland’s Women are the defending Six Nations champions
Ireland’s Women will take part in a Six Nations double header at Twickenham on February 27, when they play England directly after their male counterparts
The Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 will be hosted in Ireland at venues across both Dublin and Belfast