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Number one settled while Wales drop to lowest ever world ranking

Australia's Isaac Kailea (2R) tackles Wales' Harri O'Connor (3L) during the rugby union Test match between Australia and Wales at Allianz Stadium in Sydney on July 6, 2024. (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The debate over who the number one team in the world is has been put to bed, for now, with Ireland at risk of moving to third in the world should they lose to South Africa again next weekend.

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Wales meanwhile dropped out of the top ten in the official World Rugby Rankings, which will be updated midday on Monday.

Their 25-16 loss to the Wallabies in Sydney allowed the hosts to move up to 8th overall, also extending their incredible run of success against Wales at home and giving fans renewed hope under new coach Joe Schmidt.

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Joe Schmidt and Liam Wright after Wallabies win over Wales

Coach Joe Schmidt and captain Liam Wright spoke to media following their 25-16 win over Wales in Sydney. Wright became the 89th captain of Australia when he led the side out for the first time in front of more than 35,00

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Joe Schmidt and Liam Wright after Wallabies win over Wales

Coach Joe Schmidt and captain Liam Wright spoke to media following their 25-16 win over Wales in Sydney. Wright became the 89th captain of Australia when he led the side out for the first time in front of more than 35,00

“A win is really important and it always is because that’s what you get judged on externally, but internally, I think just some of the moments that we did really well to earn the win, that’s what will be the focus for us building into Melbourne,” Schmidt told media post match.

“We have a few things that we’ve been working on that are maybe a little bit different to how teams have played in Super Rugby, so the adjustment time for that to become second nature is inevitably going to take time.”

Wales now sit in 11th spot, dropping out of the top ten and being replaced by Fiji.

Italy swapped places with Australia, dropping to ninth following their 33-25 loss to Samoa at Apia Park on Friday. It was the first match in charge for new coach Mahonri Schwalger and sees Samoa move up to 13th in the rankings, overtaking Georgia.

A France team with eight debutants beat Argentina 28-13 in their first test in Mendoza. While in New Zealand and Australia new coaches were able to pick up wins, Felipe Contepomi’s first test in charge of Argentina didn’t go so well.

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France and Argentina are unmoved in the rankings, staying at fourth and seventh respectively. They meet again in Velez next weekend.

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The All Blacks stay in third place following their narrow 16-15 win over England in Dunedin, but should they win again next weekend, and Ireland lose, they will move up to second in the world, with Ireland dropping to third.

Scott Robertson got off to a shaky start in charge, with England pushing his side in what captain Scott Barrett described as an “arm wrestle”.

“It’s great to see how quickly the boys have come together under a new coaching system,” Barrett said.

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“England shifted us around with little kicks in behind. They just squeezed us at times, made us try to play out of our own half and we were a bit slow to adapt.”

England remains in fifth place in the world rankings.

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At the top of the rankings table, the battle for number one was highly anticipated but didn’t quite deliver in terms of top quality rugby, with some scrappy play from both South Africa and Ireland as the hosts came out on top 27-20 at Loftus Versfeld.

TMO interventions and poor goal-kicking played a large part in the outcome, and while the world champion Springboks picked up 0.31 ranking points to stay at number one and extend their lead, Ireland will be confident that with a bit of luck, they have a great opportunity to bounce back and claim a win next weekend in Durban.

“The goal was achieved but it was far from a perfect performance,” coach Rassie Erasmus said post match.

“Ireland are a team we’ve had zero success against since (we took over in) 2018 … they’ve really had our number. I wouldn’t say it’s a monkey off our back. Any day they can step up and beat you and be No. 1.”

To overtake South Africa and reclaim number one, Ireland would have had to have won by 16 points or more in Pretoria. After the evidence on show this past weekend, it’s looking unlikely that such a rout would take place in Durban in the second test.

All Black second row Brodie Retallick joins Jim Hamilton for the latest episode of Walk the Talk, touching on life in Japan, RWC 2023 and the future of All Black rugby. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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4 Comments
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Neil 14 days ago

We won't find out who the real number 1 is until the end of the year. The first half of the year the rankings are always skewed towards the northern hemisphere teams, because they all pick up rankings points during the 6 nations while the Southern hemisphere teams aren't playing at all.

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paul 14 days ago

So based on irish logic: SA beat England and NZ by a point at last matchup but now NZ beats England by one. So I reckon NZ has now moved to joint number one. So if SA can put in their diary to have the cup ready to hand over for our 50% in Nov 2025 that would be appreciated. Also Ireland now way off as lost to both nz and sa by way more than 1. So England must be no 3. Not sure who finished third at rwc but likely them so they can hang on to their bronze medals for now. Boy this pseudo world champ stuff is so complex to keep track of.

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Wonton 3 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

One game against Fiji is not enough to show that a player is ready to play the likes of South Africa. Spreading the ball wide too much increases the risk of turnovers and we turned the ball over 20 times against Fiji which is a lot more than what we did in the two England tests. We actually turned the ball over the same amount of times (20) against England in the 2019 semi final which we lost. Fiji didn’t make us pay for those turnovers but other teams will. In the 2nd test against England this year we had 100% success rate on attacking rucks. That’s the first time the AB’s have achieved this since the 2019 opening game of the RWC against South Africa. South Africa won last years RWC and Jesse Kriel did not pass once. The days of the Conrad Smith type centre might be over. Also Conrad Smith debuted in 2004 but he did not become an incumbent until Nonu did also in 2008. As for Rieko Ioane he and Jordie Barrett put in some very strong midfield hits in the 2nd test forcing turnovers several times. Rieko Ioane hasn’t played wing in years. If Proctor is moved to 13 then the best I think Ioane can hope for is an impact player off the bench. He does not have the aerial game of Caleb Clarke or the workrate of Tele’a for 11 and going to be selected over Jordan at 14. However its much too early to replace Rieko with Proctor. Rieko was excellent in the knock out rounds of the RWC. All Proctor has to show on his test CV is a good game against Fiji.

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Nick 5 hours ago
How 'gazelle' Nick Frost thawed the hearts of Wallaby fans at Suncorp

Its almost like you read my comment on the other site on sunday morning Nick - you flagged all the same examples! 😝 Frost was motm for mine. That eg in the 56th minute in particular impressed me, nothing but sheer effort and a dupont/smith-like tracking line behind the D. Surely an effort like that from frost marries perfectly with that quote from schmidt at the start of the year about effort and work rate being 70-80% and talent is just the icing on top… What it also showed though was the players not making that effort, in that example he goes past both valetini and ikitau, and in the eg that finished with valetini scoring hunter paisami barely breaks a canter to support the break. And then there was the chase from wright and lancaster for the 2nd georgian try! One blemish - at kickoff I saw frost miss or get bumped off a few tackles and I felt like I saw what has been holding his selection back. I think because he is so big and is trying to get low to tackle, he seems to dip his head and ends up losing his balance or ability to adjust and ends up missing or making a soft hit. I think in the first 2 minutes he misses or makes 2-3 soft tackles, but you could clearly see the work rate and desire! He (the pod) also missed a kick restart or two? Also very happy to see harry wilson back in the fold. What impressed me from him wasn’t all the usual stuff he is known for, but all the other bits that usually let him down. He looked surprisingly good in the air at lineout time, physical at the breakdown, and good in the maul peeling off 3 georgians for one of the maul tries. Id have frost, skelton, wright as my 4-6 with LSL and wilson on the bench. i’m once again unconvinced by tom wirght - he was very good game 1, but game 2-3 he was back to more rocks than diamonds. There is no real other player to usurp him really so he stays in the team for now but I think Joe should put kellaway wherever he serves the team best and wright can be moved around him. Did donno do enough to overtake noah? My gut says no. They clearly had a plan to attack more so he looked better in that regard because he just had more opportunity, but they looked better off tate (who had a v good game also) then they did off donno.

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