For the past 10 years, rugby’s world rankings have barely been mentioned by anyone – the All Blacks sat at the top and no one had a problem with that. But Wales’ ascent to the top of the rankings two weekends ago has now made it one of the most keenly discussed topics.
Suddenly there has been swathes of criticism of the system, which has given Wales and Ireland the opportunity to climb to No1 over the past few weeks, a status they will contest again this weekend when they face each other in Cardiff.
Agustin Pichot, the vice-chairman of World Rugby, has now weighed in on the debate, claiming it is “ridiculous” how Wales can climb to No1 despite last beating the All Blacks in 1953.
The former Argentina captain also said the ranking system does not treat either Italy or Los Pumas fairly as they have tougher schedules from respectively being in the Six Nations and the Rugby Championship.
Wales fans weren’t going to lie down and accept those comments, though, and they have responded on social media. A huge number of fans have said that Wales’ 14-match win streak over the past 15 months does not lie, that they have beaten the likes of South Africa, Australia and Ireland, all of whom have beaten the All Blacks in the past year.
World Rugby vice president Agustin Pichot has joined the chorus of criticism surrounding the world rankings system after Wales overtook New Zealand as the world's top-ranked side.https://t.co/LZvSb3UK5q
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) August 29, 2019
Many fans have also said that Pichot has not voiced his opinion in the past when the All Blacks sat at the top and that it is only because Wales are No1 that he is critical.
It seemed very unlikely that the former scrum-half was going to be able to pass these comments without facing a backlash, and that has indeed come from the Welsh fans who feel that Warren Gatland’s side are rightfully ranked No1. This is what has been said:
Agustin pichot. You, sir are ignorant. Wales have beaten Australia, Boks, Ireland the past 12 months, the 3 teams NZ lost to. So we get more ranking points. Your bosses create the criteria
— rob griffiths (@spincha10) August 28, 2019
So in the last year or so Wales have lost only once and beating some of the best teams in the World in that time South Africa Australia Ireland where New Zealand have lost to Australia South Africa and Ireland so on current form Wales are the best team in the world
— mr Gaff (@davidgr24598467) August 29, 2019
These people need to get a grip!! Let us enjoy our brief moment at the the top ???????
— Kelly Paynter (@paynter_kelly) August 29, 2019
He makes no sense at all. You can win the world cup without beating the number 1 team. The numbers dont lie… ???????
— Ed Williams (@dynllandeilo) August 29, 2019
Imagine any sporting league in the world where you couldn't be on top, if it meant that there was a less successful team (that you happen not to have played for over a year, through no fault of your own) who would then finish below you. Pichot is a bellend. https://t.co/zO3vRNnHBC
— Mike Bubbins (@MikeBubbins) August 29, 2019
This dismissal of mathematics is very Trumpian. Look at Wales last 12 months v NZs. Look at how god awful the Boks and Wallabies have been the past couple of years and therefore the reduced value of AB wins v the highly competitive 6N teams. Wales fully deserving of no1 spot.
— Philip Bredin (@philbredin) August 28, 2019
Did he call them ridiculous when the formula for calculating them was agreed? If fudges are put it, it's a slippery slope. The rankings are not strictly speaking the best team in the world, it's the team with the best recent record in the world.
— Sam Rogers (@samalexrogers) August 29, 2019
He’s such a annoying twat. Rankings are supposed to give an objective ranking not fiddled until they align what some shitty administrator who’s desperate to make a name for himself thinks.
— Undeb Rygbi (@URygbi) August 28, 2019
In Pichot’s defence, he has only echoed what many fans, particularly from New Zealand, have been saying since the Grand Slam winners displaced Steve Hansen’s side.
Many of the complaints have been that Wales have fortunately faced many of the top-ranked sides in Cardiff, which is a veritable fortress, while their away wins have come against the likes of Argentina, who have won three of their last 26 matches, and an experimental Springboks side in Washington.
But all Wales could do was beat those teams, which they did, and they undoubtedly have the best record over the past year or so on paper. Whether they would beat the All Blacks or not is academic as they have not played. Ultimately, with the World Cup under a month away, these rankings will not be playing on the coaches’ minds too much.
WATCH: What rugby fans can expect in Fukuoka at night during the World Cup in Japan
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.