How the RWC changed the IRB rankings

by staff

Newly crowned world champions New Zealand remain on top of the IRB World Rankings following their 8-7 victory over France in the RWC 2011 Final last weekend, but the tournament did see a number of changes over the seven weeks.

Aside from the All Blacks, who lifted the Webb Ellis Cup for a second time some 24 years after the first success – also at France’s expense, there are only two other sides who ended Rugby World Cup 2011 in the position they began it.

The other two are bronze medallists Australia and quarter-finalists England, who remain second and fifth respectively despite both being on the move during the tournament, the Wallabies slipping to third after defeat by Ireland and the English rising to fourth and also falling to sixth.

To reflect the importance of Rugby World Cup matches, the rating change for any encounter in the tournament is doubled which is the reason for so many of the changes and tightening up of the teams, although the odd upset did play its part, including Tonga’s win over France in Pool A.

Tonga enjoyed something of a rollercoaster of a tournament in the IRB World Rankings, coming in ranked 12th but slipping to 15th after a 25-20 loss to Canada, bouncing back to 13th by beating Japan and then rocketing into the top 10 for the first time ever with a 19-14 victory over Les Bleus.

This one result helped Tonga end the tournament with a rating of 76.63, some 4.15 points higher than before the tournament. Compare that to New Zealand who, as the number one side and playing on home soil, increased their rating by just 0.88 in the course of being crowned world champions.

Ireland, meanwhile, had gone into RWC 2011 ranked eighth after slipping four places with four defeats in their warm-up matches, but victory over a 15-6 victory over Australia in Pool C helped them to end the tournament in sixth, despite bowing out in the quarter-finals.

Wales will consider themselves unlucky to come away from RWC 2011 in eighth spot after such an impressive showing in reaching the semi-finals, but losses to France and Australia in their final two matches dropped them from a record-equalling fourth spot to eighth.

Ups and downs

Scotland are also counting the cost after failing to reach the quarter-finals for the first time, defeats by Argentina and England in Pool B dropping the Scots three places to 10th and leaving Andy Robinson’s men now four points adrift of the Welsh in eighth.

South Africa did rise to second after Australia’s surprise loss to Ireland, but fell back to third after the Wallabies ended their hopes of back-to-back titles in the quarter-finals. France would also climb above them, breaking the southern hemisphere dominance of the top three.

The changes to the IRB World Rankings as a result of RWC 2011, though, are not just confined to the top 10 with the impressive Georgia rising two places to 14th as a result of their 25-9 victory over European Nations Cup rivals Romania.

Canada may have missed out on automatic qualification for England 2015 as a result of Tonga causing one of the biggest upsets in RWC history, but they have still risen one place to 13th, a climb matched by their North American rivals USA who now lie 17th.

The USA’s gain came off the back of a 13-6 win over Russia in a match dubbed the “battle of the superpowers”, the Eagles’ first RWC win since 2003. The defeat lifted USA above Romania and also saw Russia slip out two places to 21st, elevating Namibia and Portugal.

While Tonga are celebrating a new high in the IRB World Rankings, their fellow Pacific Islanders Samoa and Fiji both slipped a place after finishing third and fourth in Pool D. Italy also slipped a place after missing out on a first quarter-final appearance, while Japan have fallen two to 15th.





4 FRANCE 83.78

5 ENGLAND 82.89

6 WALES 80.79

7 SCOTLAND 78.83

8 IRELAND 78.50


10 SAMOA 74.54

11 ITALY 73.88

12 TONGA 72.48

13 JAPAN 71.95

14 CANADA 71.56

15 FIJI 70.83

16 GEORGIA 70.30

17 ROMANIA 65.69

18 USA 65.00

19 RUSSIA 61.92

20 NAMIBIA 61.42




3 FRANCE 84.70


5 ENGLAND 81.58

6 IRELAND 80.65


8 WALES 80.18

9 TONGA 76.63

10 SCOTLAND 76.20

11 SAMOA 75.81

12 ITALY 73.99

13 CANADA 72.92

14 GEORGIA 71.09

15 JAPAN 70.45

16 FIJI 68.78

17 USA 65.63

18 ROMANIA 63.98

19 NAMIBIA 61.24

20 PORTUGAL 60.67

21 RUSSIA 60.54