Tuesday, October 25, 2011

All Blacks number one for first time at end of Cup year

New Zealand remain on top of the IRB World Rankings after beating France 8-7 in the Rugby World Cup Final on Sunday to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time in 24 years, although their cushion at the top has been reduced slightly.

It is the first time since the rankings have been introduced that the All Blacks have remained the number one team at the end of a World Cup year, with England (2003) and South Africa (2007) gaining the position with their previous successes - although the All Blacks took back the number one position the following year.

The All Blacks have occupied top spot for the last 23 months and for nearly 80 per cent of the time since the rankings were introduced in October 2003, but would have surrendered that position to France had they suffered more RWC heartbreak against Les Bleus.


The world champions only increased their rating slightly to 91.43, but that will matter little as they continued the celebrations with a street parade in Auckland on Monday, the mission having been accomplished for Rugby World Cup 2011.

France’s third, and by far the closest, defeat in a Rugby World Cup Final means they remain third in the rankings behind bronze medal winners Australia and just over three tenths above South Africa, a nation they climbed above last week to break the southern hemisphere dominance of the top three.

Australia’s 21-18 victory over Wales in the Bronze Final on Friday improved their rating by nearly a point and as a result has reduced their deficit to New Zealand to 4.01 points. The defeat was costly for Wales as the points exchange meant they dropped below Ireland and Argentina to eighth.

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