Number one settled while Wales drop to lowest ever world ranking

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The debate over who the number one team in the world is has been put to bed, for now, with Ireland at risk of moving to third in the world should they lose to South Africa again next weekend.

Wales meanwhile dropped out of the top ten in the official World Rugby Rankings, which will be updated midday on Monday.

Their 25-16 loss to the Wallabies in Sydney allowed the hosts to move up to 8th overall, also extending their incredible run of success against Wales at home and giving fans renewed hope under new coach Joe Schmidt.

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Joe Schmidt and Liam Wright after Wallabies win over Wales

Coach Joe Schmidt and captain Liam Wright spoke to media following their 25-16 win over Wales in Sydney. Wright became the 89th captain of Australia when he led the side out for the first time in front of more than 35,00

“A win is really important and it always is because that’s what you get judged on externally, but internally, I think just some of the moments that we did really well to earn the win, that’s what will be the focus for us building into Melbourne,” Schmidt told media post match.

“We have a few things that we’ve been working on that are maybe a little bit different to how teams have played in Super Rugby, so the adjustment time for that to become second nature is inevitably going to take time.”

Wales now sit in 11th spot, dropping out of the top ten and being replaced by Fiji.

Italy swapped places with Australia, dropping to ninth following their 33-25 loss to Samoa at Apia Park on Friday. It was the first match in charge for new coach Mahonri Schwalger and sees Samoa move up to 13th in the rankings, overtaking Georgia.

A France team with eight debutants beat Argentina 28-13 in their first test in Mendoza. While in New Zealand and Australia new coaches were able to pick up wins, Felipe Contepomi’s first test in charge of Argentina didn’t go so well.

France and Argentina are unmoved in the rankings, staying at fourth and seventh respectively. They meet again in Velez next weekend.

The All Blacks stay in third place following their narrow 16-15 win over England in Dunedin, but should they win again next weekend, and Ireland lose, they will move up to second in the world, with Ireland dropping to third.

Scott Robertson got off to a shaky start in charge, with England pushing his side in what captain Scott Barrett described as an “arm wrestle”.

“It’s great to see how quickly the boys have come together under a new coaching system,” Barrett said.

“England shifted us around with little kicks in behind. They just squeezed us at times, made us try to play out of our own half and we were a bit slow to adapt.”

England remains in fifth place in the world rankings.

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England

At the top of the rankings table, the battle for number one was highly anticipated but didn’t quite deliver in terms of top quality rugby, with some scrappy play from both South Africa and Ireland as the hosts came out on top 27-20 at Loftus Versfeld.

TMO interventions and poor goal-kicking played a large part in the outcome, and while the world champion Springboks picked up 0.31 ranking points to stay at number one and extend their lead, Ireland will be confident that with a bit of luck, they have a great opportunity to bounce back and claim a win next weekend in Durban.

“The goal was achieved but it was far from a perfect performance,” coach Rassie Erasmus said post match.

“Ireland are a team we’ve had zero success against since (we took over in) 2018 … they’ve really had our number. I wouldn’t say it’s a monkey off our back. Any day they can step up and beat you and be No. 1.”

To overtake South Africa and reclaim number one, Ireland would have had to have won by 16 points or more in Pretoria. After the evidence on show this past weekend, it’s looking unlikely that such a rout would take place in Durban in the second test.

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