YOKOHAMA, Japan, October 24– The World Rugby Rankings have been an accurate predictor for the quarterfinalists and semifinalists at Rugby World Cup 2019 with the top eight and four nations respectively remaining in the hunt for the Webb Ellis Cup.
The same will apply after this weekend with the winners of both semifinals at International Stadium Yokohama to occupy the top two places in the rankings. But the question is will that be New Zealand, England, Wales or South Africa?
South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus expressed their desire to return to No 1 in the world – a position they haven’t held for nearly a decade – after announcing his team to play Wales in the second semifinal.
“I think we have been under pressure for the past couple of years to redeem ourselves,” Erasmus admitted after being asked whether South Africa or Wales would be under most pressure come Sunday.
“We’ve been number five, six, seven in the world over the last three years since 2015, and we’ve got some proper hidings against almost all the teams. We’ve lost to Italy, Japan, beaten by 57 points (by New Zealand), lost 39-3 against Ireland.
“Some people lost a lot of faith in us at some stages, so we’ve got a different challenge all in all. We were just trying to get some respect back at the beginning so that people could start believing in us as a team.
“Now we are at that stage where we want to become number one in the world again.”
South Africa cannot achieve that goal this weekend as the winner of Saturday’s semifinal, between defending champions New Zealand and 2003 winners England, will sit top of the rankings regardless of what happens 24 hours later at International Stadium Yokohama.
A Springbok victory on Sunday will see them return to a position they have not occupied since August 2015 – hence Erasmus’ desire to see the Springboks continue their climb back up the rankings.
In defeat, neither Wales nor South Africa can drop any lower than fourth.
During RWC 2019, where points exchanges are doubled to reflect the importance of the tournament, the World Rugby Rankings will update after every match.
– African News Agency (ANA)