World Rugby Rankings

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World Rugby Rankings
Top 25 Rankings as 23 March 2015[1]
Rank Change* Team Points
1 Steady  New Zealand 93.70
2 Steady  South Africa 88.23
3 Steady  Ireland 85.76
4 Steady  England 85.40
5 Steady  Wales 84.07
6 Steady  Australia 82.95
7 Steady  France 79.74
8 Steady  Argentina 78.23
9 Steady  Samoa 75.39
10 Steady  Scotland 74.79
11 Steady  Japan 74.70
12 Steady  Fiji 74.57
13 Steady  Tonga 74.12
14 Increase1  Georgia 72.16
15 Decrease1  Italy 71.85
16 Steady  United States 67.61
17 Increase1  Canada 66.83
18 Decrease1  Romania 66.23
19 Steady  Russia 64.65
20 Steady  Uruguay 63.58
21 Steady  Spain 62.59
23 Steady  Namibia 58.27
23 Steady  Portugal 57.40
24 Steady  South Korea 57.22
25 Steady  Belgium 56.14
*Change from the previous week
New Zealand's Historical Rankings
New Zealand IRB World Rankings.png
Source: World Rugby - Graph updated to 6 October 2014[1]

The World Rugby Rankings (Formerly the IRB World 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 based on the results of World Rugby-recognized international matches. Rankings are based on a 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]

Rank leaders[edit]

World Rugby Ranking Leaders
New Zealand national rugby union team South Africa national rugby union team New Zealand national rugby union team South Africa national rugby union team New Zealand national rugby union team South Africa national rugby union team New Zealand national rugby union team England national rugby union team New Zealand national rugby union team England national rugby union team

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 7 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.

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 80 percent of the time during this period. South Africa and England make up the remainder.

Best and worst[edit]

Below is a table showing nations, that have appeared in the Rugby World Cup, best and worst positions in World Rugby Rankings.

Team Tier Best Worst
Ranking Year(s) Ranking Year(s)
 Argentina Tier 1 3 2007–08 12 2014
 Australia Tier 1 2 2003, 2004–05
2007, 2008, 2010, 2011–12
6 2015
 Canada Tier 2 12 2011 18 2014–15
 England Tier 1 1 2003–04 8 2009
 Fiji Tier 2 9 2007 16 2011, 2012
 France Tier 1 2 2006, 2007 8 2009, 2011
 Georgia Tier 2 13 2004 23 2009
 Ireland Tier 1 3 2003, 2006, 2014–2015 9 2013
 Italy Tier 1 8 2007 15 2015
 Ivory Coast Tier 3 38 2003, 2005, 2006 48 2012, 2013, 2014
 Japan Tier 2 9 2014 20 2003, 2006
 Namibia Tier 3 19 2011–12 29 2006
 New Zealand Tier 1 1 2003, 2004–07, 2008
2009, 2009–15
3 2003
 Portugal Tier 3 16 2005 27 2012
 Romania Tier 2 13 2003, 2006 19 2009, 2010, 2011
 Russia Tier 3 16 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 26 2005
 Samoa Tier 2 7 2013 13 2007, 2010
 Scotland Tier 1 6 2011 12 2012, 2013
 Spain Tier 3 18 2012–13 32 2004–05
 South Africa Tier 1 1 2007–08, 2009 6 2003, 2004
 Tonga Tier 2 9 2011 20 2005, 2006
 United States Tier 2 14 2003, 2005, 2007 20 2008
 Uruguay Tier 3 15 2005 23 2012
 Wales Tier 1 4 2009, 2011, 2012 10 2007, 2012
 Zimbabwe Tier 3 25 2015 57 2007

Current calculation method[edit]

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 based upon 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.[3] The rankings are responsive to results and it is possible to climb to the top from the bottom (and vice versa) in less than 20 matches. As all matches are worth a total of 0 points 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.


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

  • Match result
  • Match status
  • Opposition strength
  • Home advantage

Match result[edit]

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[edit]

Different matches have different importance to teams, and World Rugby has tried to respect this by using a weighting system, where the most significant matches are in the 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[edit]

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 tier 1 team plays a lowly ranked tier 3 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[edit]

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, any advantage that a side may have by playing in front of their home crowd is cancelled out.

New and dormant nations[edit]

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 planned 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 a couple of years are removed from the ranking system and the list. If they become active again, they resume their previous rating.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b "World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "England top IRB rankings, Ireland third". Irish Times. 2003-09-09. Retrieved 2008-11-23. 
  3. ^ "Rankings Explanation". Retrieved 2007-09-16. 

External links[edit]