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World Rugby rankings right on the money to date - with one exception

Could it be that rugby’s world ranking people deserve an apology?

If first impressions at the Rugby World Cup count for anything, those responsible for the complicated, and condemned, ratings system have earned their keep.

All 20 teams have had at least one hit-out in Japan following Thursday’s double-header.

Both North American teams crashed to heavy defeat – making it two wins from two for both England and Italy – continuing the predictable trend of higher-ranked teams prevailing through the first 12 games.

The one exception was Uruguay’s stunning upset of Fiji, the sort of result that stands out because rugby inherently doesn’t cater for many boilovers.

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The eye test is needed to separate the big guns early on at this tournament.

On that front, the computer-based ranking system appears to be near faultless.

The All Blacks, back at No.1 after Wales and Ireland enjoyed brief cameos on the throne this month, unleashed the best performance by any team in the opening week.

The three-time champions saw off a fierce South African onslaught through attacking understanding and ambition that cements them as tournament favourites.

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Steve Hansen’s call two months ago to field the visionary Beauden Barrett at fullback gives New Zealand two world-class playmakers to call the shots.

It’s early days but with margins so fine among the top echelon of nations, the shoe-horning of the excellent Richie Mo’unga into the same XV as Barrett shapes as a tournament trump card.

The next best showing came from the next best-ranked side.

Ireland’s forwards and clinical game plan overwhelmed a punch drunk Scotland and they have emerged as the pick of the European heavyweights.

Third-ranked England did little more than flex their muscles to dispatch Tonga and the USA. Their credentials will come under the microscope shortly from Argentina and France.

Wales (fourth) and Australia (sixth) weren’t perfect first up against decent opposition but both should lift for their key pool clash on Sunday.

South Africa (fifth) showed more than enough not to be written off along with France (seventh), who prevailed in a nail-biter against the Pumas.

Of course, except for a few matches, the results of the tournament to date have been fairly predictable with considerable differences in skill levels between opponents being the norm so far.

The bigger challenge will come when similarly ranked teams come face-to-face in matches that even the rugby experts won’t be able to predict with any certainty.

– with AAP

If you’re looking for candid views from uninhibited fans, then you can do no better than a Rugby World Cup fanzone:

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World Rugby rankings right on the money to date - with one exception