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South Africa Third In Rankings As Rugby World Cup 2023 Nears Knockout Stage
- Ireland remain the number one ranked side in world rugby ahead of the Rugby World Cup in France
- South Africa are the defending champions but have dropped two places in the rankings since 2019
- Australia continues to slide down the list following an abysmal performance at the current edition
South Africa are looking to defend their Rugby World Cup title in France but will face stiff competition to do so.
The Springboks went into the tournament as one of the favourites but were not the number one ranked side heading into the global showpiece.
1 - Ireland
Ranked fourth in the fourth ahead of the 2019 edition, Ireland are currently the number one ranked side in the world.
The Irish have had a stellar 2023, as they not only performed a clean sweep in the Six Nations but remained undefeated throughout the year, Rugby.Com reported.
The Irish also swept aside the All Black and the Boks and will be looking to repeat that feat in France. So far at RWC 2023, they smashed Romania and Tonga before squeezing past a lacklustre South Africa.
2 – France
The host nation have moved up two places now since the last tournament and are now ranked second.
The French will hope their fans spur them to a victory and have done splendidly so far. Les Bleus were strong in their win over the All Blacks and Uruguay, before crushing Namibia 96-0.
However, that victory over the Africans came at a cost with talismanic France captain, Antoine Dupont injured and fighting to be ready for the quarter-finals, per the BBC.
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3 – South Africa
The defending champions have dropped to third place in the rankings but are strong contenders to retain their title.
The Boks boast a formidable team and came into the tourney off some impressive wins. They beat New Zealand 35-7 in a previous outing, inflicting a record-margin defeat upon the All Blacks, The Guardian reported.
South Africa accounted for a tricky Scotland before hammering Romania. However, their World Cup game against Ireland revealed a key weakness in the kicking department.
4 – New Zealand
Don’t let their rating fool you; the All Blacks are a formidable side. Currently ranked number four, New Zealand were the number one ranked side in 2019.
They have won the title three times, Topend Sports reported, and are looking for a record fourth title.
However, the mighty New Zealand has had a mixed bag at RWC so far: they lost by quite a margin (by their standard) to France then bounced back to annihilate Namibia. Their next two games will also be crucial and challenging, against Italy and Uruguay.
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5 – Scotland
Gregor Townsend has assembled probably the strongest side in Scottish history and they will be looking to shock the world in France.
The Scottish side have climbed four places since 2019 and could prove to be a formidable force, although recent results in the tournament have been lacking.
The Scots were humbled by a resurgent South Africa first up, before bouncing back to thump Tonga. Their success will hinge on a clash against a formidable Ireland in the last week of the group stages.
The rest of the top 10 sees England in sixth, Wales jumping to seventh, Fiji in eighth, and Argentina in ninth. Australia have dropped to tenth after a dismal tournament so far.
Rugby World Cup: the most prolific winners
Sports Brief also reported on the nations with the most Rugby World Cup titles.
New Zealand and South Africa have each won the global tournament three times.