RWC 2011 winners to top world rankings
AUCKLAND, 20 Oct. - Whoever emerges victorious from the Rugby World Cup 2011 Final on Sunday will not only get to hold aloft the coveted Webb Ellis Cup at Eden Park but will also top the IRB World Rankings when they update the following day.
New Zealand have sat atop the rankings for the past 23 months and will continue to do so if they end their 24-year wait for a second title by beating France in the second RWC Final to be staged at Eden Park, even though victory over Les Bleus will result in only a small increase in their rating points.
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The All Blacks increased their cushion over Australia in second to 4.85 points after ending the Wallabies’ hopes of a becoming the first nation to win the Rugby World Cup three times with a dominant display in a 20-6 semi-final victory last weekend.
That cushion will reduce if Australia bounce back from that disappointment by beating Wales in the Bronze Final on Friday, but tournament favourites New Zealand will not care about that if they can get their hands on the Webb Ellis Cup again with a second victory over France at RWC 2011.
However, if New Zealand fall at the final hurdle then France will mark their first ever RWC success with a new high in the rankings, having never been above second before. More than four years have passed since Les Bleus occupied that position.
France will top the IRB World Rankings with any margin of victory over New Zealand and become the first northern hemisphere nation to hold that position since then world champions England relinquished it in June 2004.
New Zealand, who have held the number one position for nearly 80 per cent of the time since the rankings were introduced in October 2003, could slip to third depending on the margin of defeat and the outcome of the Bronze Final.
Lowest ever positions
This would equal the lowest ever ranking for tournament hosts New Zealand, a position they occupied only briefly after Australia ended their RWC dreams for another four years at the semi-final stage in 2003.
For New Zealand to slip to third they must lose by more than 15 points and Australia or Wales win by the same margin in the Bronze Final, otherwise the All Blacks will remain second, ahead of the Wallabies by potentially as little as one-hundredth of a point.
France cannot slip below third even with a heavy loss and the disappointed Les Bleus could actually climb to second if Wales manage only a narrow win over the Wallabies, a result which would also see South Africa and the Welsh rise with Australia dropping to fifth.
Wales will return to fourth, the position they lost after the heartbreaking defeat by France last weekend, with a narrow win, but will climb to a new high of second if they finish with a victory by more than 15 points to also lift them above France and South Africa.
On the flip side, if Wales fail to repeat their third-place finish of the inaugural RWC in 1987 - when they beat Australia 22-21 - then the Dragons will slip below Ireland and Argentina to eighth in the rankings.
The IRB World Rankings update on Monday at 12:00 UK time (00:00 NZL time Tuesday).