World Rugby Rankings

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Top 30 rankings as of 7 January 2019[1]
Rank Change* Team Points
1 Steady  New Zealand 092.54
2 Steady  Ireland 091.17
3 Steady  Wales 087.24
4 Steady  England 086.22
5 Steady  South Africa 084.58
6 Steady  Australia 082.40
7 Steady  Scotland 081.84
8 Steady  Fiji 077.95
9 Steady  France 077.33
10 Steady  Argentina 077.05
11 Steady  Japan 075.24
12 Steady  United States 073.66
13 Steady  Georgia 073.42
14 Steady  Tonga 073.02
15 Steady  Italy 072.75
16 Steady  Samoa 068.78
17 Steady  Uruguay 066.82
18 Steady  Romania 065.45
19 Steady  Russia 065.20
20 Steady  Canada 062.95
21 Steady  Spain 062.24
22 Steady  Namibia 060.34
23 Steady  Netherlands 058.45
24 Steady  Hong Kong 058.11
25 Steady  Belgium 058.09
26 Steady  Germany 057.83
27 Steady  Portugal 057.08
28 Steady  Brazil 056.81
29 Steady  Chile 054.36
30 Steady  South Korea 053.59
*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 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 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 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 85 percent of the time during this period. South Africa and England make up the remainder.

Best and worst[edit]

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

Team Best Worst
Rank Year(s) Rank Year(s)
 Argentina 3 2007–08 12 2014
 Australia 2 2003, 2004–05, 2007, 2008,
2010, 2011–12, 2015–16
7 2018
 Canada 12 2011 24 2017
 England 1 2003, 2003–04 8 2009, 2015–16
 Fiji 8 2018 16 2011, 2012
 France 2 2006, 2007 10 2018
 Georgia 11 2016 23 2009
 Ireland 2 2015, 2018 9 2013
 Italy 8 2007 15 2015, 2017, 2018
 Ivory Coast 38 2003, 2005, 2006 55 2017
 Japan 9 2014, 2016 20 2003, 2006
 Namibia 18 2017 29 2006
 New Zealand 1 2003, 2004–07, 2008,
2009, 2009–18
3 2003
 Portugal 16 2005 30 2015, 2016
 Romania 13 2003, 2006 19 2009, 2010, 2011
 Russia 16 2007, 2008, 2009, 2012 26 2005
 Samoa 7 2013 17 2018
 Scotland 5 2017, 2017–18, 2018 12 2012, 2013, 2015
 Spain 18 2012–13, 2017 32 2004–05
 South Africa 1 2007–08, 2009 7 2017, 2018
 Tonga 9 2011 20 2005, 2006
 United States 12 2018 20 2008
 Uruguay 15 2005 23 2012, 2017
 Wales 2 2015 10 2007, 2012
 Zimbabwe 25 2015 57 2007, 2008

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 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.[3] 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.


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 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[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, ideally, 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 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.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "Men's World Rankings". World Rugby. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  2. ^ "England top IRB rankings, Ireland third". Times. 2003-09-09. Retrieved 2008-11-23.
  3. ^ "Rankings Explanation". Archived from the original on October 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-16.

External links[edit]