World Rugby Rankings

Last updated
Men's World Rugby Rankings
Top 30 rankings as of 29 March, 2021 [1]
RankChange*TeamPoints
1Steady2.svgFlag of South Africa.svg  South Africa 094.20
2Steady2.svgFlag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 088.95
3Increase2.svg 1Flag of England.svg  England 085.44
4Increase2.svg 1IRFU flag.svg  Ireland 084.69
5Decrease2.svg 2Flag of France.svg  France 084.27
6Steady2.svgFlag of Wales (1959-present).svg  Wales 083.44
7Steady2.svgFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 083.08
8Increase2.svg 1Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland 082.02
9Decrease2.svg 1Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 080.31
10Steady2.svgFlag of Japan.svg  Japan 079.29
11Steady2.svgFlag of Fiji.svg  Fiji 076.87
12Steady2.svgFlag of Georgia.svg  Georgia 073.73
13Steady2.svgFlag of Tonga.svg  Tonga 071.44
14Steady2.svgFlag of Samoa.svg  Samoa 070.72
15Steady2.svgFlag of Italy.svg  Italy 070.65
16Steady2.svgFlag of the United States.svg  United States 068.10
17Steady2.svgFlag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay 067.02
18Steady2.svgFlag of Romania.svg  Romania 066.22
19Steady2.svgFlag of Spain.svg  Spain 064.82
20Steady2.svgFlag of Russia.svg  Russia 062.71
21Increase2.svg 3Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 062.10
22Decrease2.svg 1Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong 061.23
23Decrease2.svg 1Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 061.11
24Decrease2.svg 1Flag of Namibia.svg  Namibia 061.04
25Steady2.svgFlag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 060.09
26Steady2.svgFlag of Brazil.svg  Brazil 057.71
27Steady2.svgFlag of Belgium (civil).svg  Belgium 057.17
28Steady2.svgFlag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland 054.12
29Steady2.svgFlag of Chile.svg  Chile 053.81
30Steady2.svgFlag of Germany.svg  Germany 053.13
*Change from the previous week

The World Rugby Rankings (formerly the IRB Rankings) is a ranking system for men's national teams in rugby union, managed by World Rugby, the sport's governing body. The teams of World Rugby's member nations are ranked based on their game results, with the most successful teams being ranked highest. A point system is used, with points being awarded on the basis of the results of World Rugby-recognized international matches. Rankings are based on the team's performance, with more recent results and more significant matches being more heavily weighted to help reflect the current competitive state of a team. The ranking system was introduced the month before the 2003 Rugby World Cup, with the first new rankings issued on 8 September 2003. [2] World Rugby now also publishes rankings for women's teams.

Contents

Rank leaders

World Rugby Ranking Leaders
South Africa national rugby union teamEngland national rugby union teamNew Zealand national rugby union teamIreland national rugby union teamNew Zealand national rugby union teamWales national rugby union teamNew Zealand national rugby union teamSouth Africa national rugby union teamNew Zealand national rugby union teamSouth Africa national rugby union teamNew Zealand national rugby union teamSouth Africa national rugby union teamNew Zealand national rugby union teamEngland national rugby union teamNew Zealand national rugby union teamEngland national rugby union teamWorld Rugby Rankings

When the system was introduced England were the top team and maintained that position following victory in the 2003 Rugby World Cup. New Zealand took the lead from 14 June 2004.

After winning the 2007 Rugby World Cup final, South Africa became the third team to achieve first place. The first two fixtures of the 2008 Tri Nations resulted in the top two teams switching places: the All Blacks regained the top spot after defeating South Africa in the Tri-Nations opener on 5 July 2008 in Wellington; a week later the Springboks returned the favour in Dunedin, scoring their first win over the All Blacks in New Zealand since 1998, reclaiming the top spot, only for the All Blacks to defeat both Australia and South Africa in August 2008 to regain the top spot by a considerable margin. South Africa regained the lead in July 2009 after beating New Zealand in Bloemfontein and kept the lead until losing to France in November of that year, allowing the All Blacks to regain the top spot.

A change at the top would not occur for a record period of 508 weeks (from 16 November 2009 to 19 August 2019), when Wales became the top ranked team for the first time after defeating England at Cardiff in a World Cup 2019 warm-up test in August, following on a streak in which they won 15 of 16 tests, including a Six Nations Grand Slam. Two weeks later New Zealand returned to the top of the summit following Ireland's victory over Wales in Cardiff in a World Cup 2019 warm-up test. However, on 7 September 2019, Ireland defeated Wales again, this time in Dublin, and they were installed as the number 1 team for the first time in their history, which they held entering the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The first round of matches in the 2019 Rugby World Cup saw a further change at the top, with New Zealand's pool stage victory over the Springboks seeing them regain the top spot. England's defeat of New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup semi-finals saw them return to the top spot for the first time since 2004. A week later, South Africa reclaimed top spot after defeating England in the final.

Since the rankings began, the winners of every edition of the World Cup have held the number 1 spot at the end of the tournament.

New Zealand have been the most consistently ranked #1 team since the introduction of IRB World Rankings, having held the #1 ranking for more than 85 percent of the time during this period. South Africa, England, Wales and Ireland make up the remainder.

To date, 2019 is the only calendar year in which more than two nations have held the number 1 spot - with five nations holding that title at some point during the year.

Best and worst ranking positions

Below is a list of the best and worst ranking positions for nations that have appeared in the Rugby World Cup:

TeamBestWorst
RankYear(s)RankYear(s)
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 32007–08122014
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 22003, 2004–05, 2007, 2008,
2010, 2011–12, 2015–16
72018, 2020, 2021
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 112011242017
Flag of England.svg  England 12003, 2003–04, 201982009, 2015–16
Flag of Fiji.svg  Fiji 82018, 2018–19162011, 2012
Flag of France.svg  France 22006, 2007102018, 2019
Flag of Georgia.svg  Georgia 112016, 2019232004
IRFU flag.svg  Ireland 1201992013
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 82007152015, 2017, 2018, 2018–19, 2021
Flag of Cote d'Ivoire.svg  Ivory Coast 382003, 2005, 2006552017
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 72019202003, 2006
Flag of Namibia.svg  Namibia 182017292006
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 12003, 2004–07, 2008,
2009, 2009–19, 2019
32003, 2019, 2020–21
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 162005302015, 2016
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania 132003, 2006202019
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 162007, 2008, 2009, 2012262005
Flag of Samoa.svg  Samoa 72013172018, 2019
Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland 52017, 2017–18, 2018122012, 2013, 2015
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain 162019, 2019–20322004–05
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa 12007–08, 2009, 2019, 2019–2172017, 2018
Flag of Tonga.svg  Tonga 92011202005, 2006
Flag of the United States.svg  United States 122018, 2018–19202008
Flag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay 142005232012, 2017
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg  Wales 12019102007, 2013
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe 252015572007, 2008

Rating leaders

According to World Rugby the "top side in the World will normally have a rating above 90", [3] New Zealand retained the number 1 position in August 2019 following defeat by Australia at Perth in the Rugby Championship, despite their ratings falling to 89.04. A week later, Wales increased their rating to 89.43 and claimed the top spot by beating England at Cardiff in a World Cup 2019 warm-up test. In contrast, some countries that have reached a rating of over 90 rating points, such as Australia (91.75) and Ireland (91.17), did not achieve the top spot, although Ireland would eventually reach the top of the summit with a rating of 89.47 following their victory over Wales in a World Cup 2019 warm-up test in Dublin, while Australia still to date have never attained the number 1 ranked position. This is due to the success of New Zealand who had been rated above 90 rating points for a record of 509 weeks and 6 days (from 2 November 2009 to 11 August 2019), which ended following the aforementioned defeat to Australia.

New Zealand also holds the record for the highest rating points amassed by any team, which currently stands at 96.57. England first held the record at 93.99 on the 24 November 2003, following their World Cup win in Australia; however, New Zealand surpassed this on 28 August 2006 with a rating of 94.62, following their Tri Nations victory over South Africa in Pretoria. The All Blacks would go on to push this record further over the years, reaching 95.01 points on the 25 June 2007 after beating South Africa in Durban, 96.10 points after their 2015 World Cup win in England and 96.30 points on 22 August 2016, following their Rugby Championship victory over Australia in Sydney, to its current record of 96.57, which they attained on 10 October 2016 after defeating South Africa in Durban. New Zealand's defeat by Ireland at Soldier Field, Chicago as part of the Autumn International Test Series in November 2016 ended their record streak.

Most and least accumulated ratings

Below is a list of the most and least accumulated rating points for each of the nations that have appeared in the Rugby World Cup since the ranking tables were first published on the 13 October 2003:

TeamMostLeast
Rating PointsDate AchievedRating PointsDate Achieved
Flag of Argentina.svg  Argentina 87.4522 October 200773.9723 June 2014
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 91.7526 October 201581.6822 July 2018
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 73.7419 September 201159.2119 June 2017
Flag of England.svg  England 93.9924 November 200377.7917 September 2007
Flag of Fiji.svg  Fiji 79.4817 July 201768.7826 September 2011
Flag of France.svg  France 88.348 October 200777.024 February 2019
Flag of Georgia.svg  Georgia 75.2327 June 201660.0023 February 2004
IRFU flag.svg  Ireland 91.1719 November 201877.2516 June 2008
Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 77.824 February 201369.9813 October 2003
Flag of Cote d'Ivoire.svg  Ivory Coast 50.4715 June 200945.216 July 2015
Flag of Japan.svg  Japan 82.0814 October 201961.423 November 2003
Flag of Namibia.svg  Namibia 62.7818 July 201654.7111 September 2006
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 96.5710 October 201688.1717 November 2003 & 16 November 2020
Flag of Portugal.svg  Portugal 66.6014 November 200554.2921 March 2016
Flag of Romania.svg  Romania 70.9120 November 201762.1226 November 2012
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 67.1622 June 200856.976 June 2005
Flag of Samoa.svg  Samoa 80.5017 June 201367.3919 November 2018
Flag of Scotland.svg  Scotland 84.4326 February 201872.9114 November 2005
Flag of South Africa.svg  South Africa 94.204 November 201980.6320 October 2003
Flag of Spain.svg  Spain 69.353 February 202053.4329 March 2004
Flag of Tonga.svg  Tonga 76.8027 May 201362.0425 July 2005
Flag of the United States.svg  United States 73.6619 November 201863.1123 June 2008
Flag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay 69.094 March 201959.3712 November 2012
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg  Wales 89.9618 March 201974.171 October 2007
Flag of Zimbabwe.svg  Zimbabwe 56.4415 June 201544.459 July 2007

Current calculation method

All World Rugby member countries have been given a rating that is in the range of 0 to 100 with the top side achieving a rating of about 90 points. The point system is calculated using a 'Points Exchange' system, in which sides receive points from each other on the basis of the match result – whatever one side gains, the other loses. The exchanges are based on the match result, the ranking of each team, and the margin of victory, with an allowance for home advantage. As the system aims to depict current team strengths, past successes or losses will fade and be superseded by more recent results. Thus, it is thought that it will produce an accurate picture depicting the actual current strength and thus rank of the nations. [4] The rankings are responsive to results and it is possible to climb to the top from the bottom (and vice versa) in fewer than 20 matches. As all matches are worth a net of 0 points for the two teams combined, there is no particular advantage to playing more matches. A rating stays the same until the team plays again. Although matches often result in points exchanges, 'predictable' results lead to very minor changes, and may result in no change to either side's rating.

Rules

The system ensures that it is representative of the teams' performance despite playing differing numbers of matches each year, and the differing strength of opposition that teams have to face. The factors taken into account are as follows:

Match result

For each match played points exchanges are awarded for the following five outcomes and was developed using results of international matches from 1871 to the present day:

  • a win or loss by more than 15 points
  • a win or loss by up to 15 points
  • a draw

Match status

Different matches have different importance to teams, and World Rugby has tried to reflect this by using a weighting system, where the most significant matches are in the Rugby World Cup Finals. Points exchanges are doubled during the World Cup Finals to recognise the unique importance of this event. All other full international matches are treated the same, to be as fair as possible to countries playing a different mix of friendly and competitive matches. Matches that do not have full international status do not count.

Opposition strength

A win against a very highly ranked opponent is a considerably greater achievement than a win against a low-rated opponent, so the strength of the opposing team is a factor. Thus match results are more important than margins of victory in producing accurate rankings. This is because when a highly ranked team plays a lowly ranked team and manages to beat them by over 50 points, it does not necessarily indicate how either team will perform in the future.

Home advantage

When calculating points exchanges, the home side is handicapped by treating them as though they are three rating points better than their current rating. This results in the home side gaining fewer points for winning and losing more points for losing. Because of this, ideally, any advantage that a side may have by playing in front of their home crowd is cancelled out.

How to calculate the Points Exchange

[1] Take the pre-match Points Ranking Score of Team Y. If Y has home advantage, add 3 to its pre-match Points Ranking Score. This is the “Modified pre-match Points Ranking Score” for Team Y. Call it “A”.

[2] Take the pre-match Points Ranking Score of Team Z. If Z has home advantage, add 3 to its pre-match Points Ranking Score. This is the “Modified pre-match Points Ranking Score” for Team Z. Call it “B”.

[3] Calculate the Difference between the two “Modified pre-match Points Ranking Scores”. Call it “D”.

[4] Apply the formula from the relevant item in this list:

World Cup Matches

... Team Y wins by 16 or more points ............... (10+B-A) x 0.3 capped at 6

... Team Y wins by 15 or fewer points ............... (10+B-A) x 0.2 capped at 4

... The match is a draw [**see note 9] ............... D x 0.2 capped at 2

... Team Z wins by 15 or fewer points ............... (10+A-B) x 0.2 capped at 4

... Team Z wins by 16 or more points ............... (10+A-B) x 0.3 capped at 6

Other International

... Team Y wins by 16 or more points ............... (10+B-A) x 0.15 capped at 3

... Team Y wins by 15 or fewer points ............... (10+B-A) x 0.1 capped at 2

... The match is a draw [**see note 9] ............... D x 0.1 capped at 1

... Team Z wins by 15 or fewer points ............... (10+A-B) x 0.1 capped at 2

... Team Z wins by 16 or more points ............... (10+A-B) x 0.15 capped at 3

[5] The team with the higher “Modified pre-match Points Ranking Score” may be termed the “Favourite”.

[6] The team with the lower “Modified pre-match Points Ranking Score” may be termed the “Underdog”.

[7] A team whose “Modified pre-match Points Ranking Score” is 10+ points lower than their opponents’ "Modified pre-match Points Ranking Score” may be termed the “Outsider”.

[8] An "Underdog" stands to gain more from a victory than does a "Favourite".

[9] In the case of a draw, the points are transferred from the “Favourite” to the “Underdog” or “Outsider”. The transfer is capped at 1 (2 in a World Cup Match).

[10] There is no transfer of points if a “Favourite” beats an “Outsider”.

New and dormant nations

All new member nations start with 30.00 points, which is provisional until they have completed ten test matches. When countries merge, the new country inherits the higher rating of the two countries but when they split e.g., the 2010 breakup of the Arabian Gulf rugby union team into separate teams representing its current member countries, the new countries will inherit a rating at a fixed level below the rating of the original country.

Before 1 December 2012 new member nations were given 40.00 points.

Countries that have not played a test for two years are removed from the ranking system and the list. If they become active again, they resume their previous rating.

***For a full explanation of how rankings are calculated, see the World Rugby rankings website.

Women's rankings

Top 20 rankings as of 1 March 2021 [5]
RankChange*TeamPoints
1Steady2.svgFlag of England.svg  England 094.30
2Steady2.svgFlag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 093.88
3Steady2.svgFlag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 087.49
4Steady2.svgFlag of France.svg  France 084.32
5Steady2.svgFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 078.68
6Steady2.svgFlag of the United States.svg  United States 078.19
7Steady2.svgFlag of Italy.svg  Italy 077.91
8Steady2.svgIRFU flag.svg  Ireland 074.68
9Steady2.svgFlag of Wales (1959-present).svg  Wales 073.33
10Steady2.svgFlag of Spain.svg  Spain 072.54
11Steady2.svgFlag of Scotland.svg  Scotland 070.67
12Steady2.svgFlag of Japan.svg  Japan 065.80
13Steady2.svgFlag of South Africa.svg  South Africa 063.39
14Steady2.svgFlag of Russia.svg  Russia 061.10
15Steady2.svgFlag of Kazakhstan.svg  Kazakhstan 060.45
16Steady2.svgFlag of Samoa.svg  Samoa 059.72
17Steady2.svgFlag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 058.27
18Increase2.svg1Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong 057.89
19Increase2.svg1Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden 057.73
20Increase2.svg1Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 057.72
*Change from the previous week

World Rugby now also publishes rankings for women's teams. [6]

Footnotes

    Notes and references

    1. "Men's World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 8 March 2021.
    2. "England top IRB rankings, Ireland third". Times . 2003-09-09. Retrieved 2008-11-23.
    3. "Rankings Explanation". World Rugby. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
    4. "Rankings Explanation". Archived from the original on October 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-16.
    5. "Women's World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
    6. "Women's Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 7 September 2019.

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