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With the completion of the November tours, the Test window closed on 2018. Ireland's 11-1 record for the year earned them, deservedly, World Rugby's Team of the Year. The Irish defeated the All Blacks in Dublin (Their second win ever against New Zealand) and lost to Australia 18-9 in Brisbane, the sole defeat of a three-match tour.
Ireland rolled through the Six Nations Championship winning every game, the Grand Slam designation. Ireland finished second in World Rugby rankings, closely rated behind the All Blacks.
The Kiwis went 12-2 in 2018, the two losses coming against Ireland, and South Africa away during the year's southern hemisphere Rugby Championship. But New Zealand could have lost other matches, rallying in the second half for narrow wins against South Africa (32-30) in Pretoria, and a 16-15 win against England at Twickenham.
Wales were the third Tier One nation to experience a dynamic winning season, going 10-2, the back-to-back losses coming against Ireland and England in the Six Nations event. Wales are on nine game win streak that includes two victories against South Africa and one win against Australia
The 2018 results from the top nations follow:
New Zealand 12-2
South Africa 7-7
The USA recorded the best record of Tier Two sides with a 9-1 tally, the lone loss against Ireland in Dublin. The Eagles won the Americas Cup in Grand Slam style with five victories and no defeats, including a first victory against Argentina XV. Importantly, the USA scored first ever wins against Scotland and Samoa both matches 30-29. Other wins came against Russia (62-13) and Romania in Bucharest (31-5).
The World Cup 2019 begins in September in Japan.