Just seven days after being annihilated by England at Twickenham, embarrassed Ireland remarkably have the chance to climb to No1 in the world rankings when they face Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.
That is a bizarre situation given how terribly poor Joe Schmidt’s side were in London and indeed throughout 2019. It was the second loss to England this year and Ireland also shipped a hefty 25-7 loss to Wales in Cardiff in March.
With Warren Gatland only retaining one player – James Davies – from the side that beat England two weeks ago, there is a possibility that a reeling Ireland could pull off a victory to claim top spot, albeit they must win by more than 15 points.
Regardless of whether they win or not on Saturday, there is one thing that the rugby world can agree on – that Ireland are certainly not the best team in the world at the moment. The criticism that Wales have received since moving to No1 will pale into insignificance should Ireland take their place.
Schmidt’s side were legitimately the form team in the world at the end of 2018 after winning the Grand Slam, winning a series in Australia and then beating the All Blacks, but that is no longer the case. At this point in time, Wales have a way much stronger shout for being No1.
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
As expected, there has been quite a humorous and impassioned response to this situation on social media, with the rankings understandably deemed to be farcical by some fans.
With many northern hemisphere sides naming experimental and weakened sides in these World Cup warm-ups, it has meant that results can go any way, creating absurd ramifications for the world rankings. This has been the reaction:
Ah stop it now with your rubbish mythical rankings. You do rugby no benefit with this bullshit. Whatever mechanism you use to calculate these is total nonsense.
— MOL (@grumpymol) August 29, 2019
Rankings are a total joke. Unsure why some people seem to value them so much. If you win the WC and a few championships along the way, does anyone really care how long you sit at number one for
— Simply Red (@M34515023) August 29, 2019
Lads, will you just stop with this shite … https://t.co/KeW0jsws1a
— Brian Donnelly (@bptd1234) August 29, 2019
— Ricky Jones (@rickyjoneshere) August 29, 2019
Lol I'm Irish, Wales are playing better than us
Here's hoping for the win though
— Colum Ritchie (@ColumRitchie) August 29, 2019
Had Ireland risen to the top of the rankings after beating the All Blacks last November in Dublin, very few people would have complained as they had just beaten the then incumbent No1 side.
But the timing of this weekend’s shot at securing the No1 status had struck many people as bizarre, the opportunity coming a week after conceding their most points ever against England.
The rankings have been contentious in recent weeks with even World Rugby vice-chairman Agustin Pichot ridiculing them, and it will only get worse should Ireland win by 15 points or more on Saturday.
WATCH: The RugbyPass stadium guide to the ground in Toyota where Wales will open their World Cup pool campaign against Georgia
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.