Springboks on top of the world

The World in Union
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Rugby World Cup 2019 champions South Africa move to the top of the World Rugby Men's Rankings for the first time in nearly 10 years.

As South Africa's triumphant players prepare to arrive back home to a heroes' welcome, they do so in the knowledge that they are not only world champions but also top of the World Rugby Men's Rankings for the first time since 16 November, 2009.

Saturday's 32-12 victory over England in the final of Rugby World Cup 2019 saw them awarded 3.48 rating points to go from third to first, having briefly been overtaken by New Zealand after their 40-17 defeat of Wales in the bronze final.

The Springboks' third Rugby World Cup victory has boosted their score to 94.19 points – their highest ever and 6.85 points more than when their campaign began with the side back in fourth place in the rankings, while New Zealand finished the tournament as they were at the start, in second place, but with an improved rating of 92.11 points.

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After the best part of two months in Japan, England are also unchanged in third place, despite having briefly climbed to the top of the rankings following their epic semi-final win over the All Blacks, while Wales end the tournament one place higher in fourth.

Away from Japan, three matches in the Rugby Europe International Championship counted towards the rankings.

Germany, who were relegated to the Rugby Europe Trophy last season, began life in the third tier of European rugby with a 35-15 win over Poland in Lodz.

Fielding a side unrecognisable from the one that competed in the RWC 2019 repechage last year, Germany outscored their hosts four tries to two with winger Felix Lammers crossing twice in the space of five minutes towards the end of the first half. Germany's other tries came from openside flanker Nicolas Rinklin and replacement Oliver Paine, while fly-half Nikolai Klewinghaus kicked 15 points.

Germany's first win since they beat Kenya 43-6 in the repechage just under a year ago was worth one-and-a-third rating points but they remain in 28th place in the rankings, still just over a point behind Belgium. Poland drop two places to 37th, however, with Ukraine and Czechia the sides to benefit.

Sweden's 13-0 home defeat to Luxembourg in Conference 1 North led to them falling from 47th to 53rd with the winners climbing five places to 56th.

In the division below, Austria claimed a 38-9 win over Norway to move above Finland and into 87th place, while the Norwegians fall one place to 98th.

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