The World Rugby Ranking sets the classification of national rugby teams, both male and female, worldwide. The first time this system went into rigor was in 2003, England got the crown as the best team, New Zealand took the place the next year and after winning the Rugby World Cup on 2007, South Africa was the third team to earn the honor. In 2018 the ranking on male rugby went like this:
New Zealand – All Blacks
For nine solid years, this team has kept the first place on the IRB world ranking. Since 2009 this acknowledgment has honored over 100 winning matches, more than 3000 scored points, and three won Rugby World Cups (1987, 2011, 2015). Considered as legends, the All Blacks are the favorite team for Japan 2019. New Zealand team, the all mighty All Blacks, has been the most consistent at number one since the introduction of the IRB world ranking, they have occupied the honor position for almost three-quarters of the time during this period. South Africa and England complete the rest.
Even though this team has been one of the leaders in the Northern Hemisphere, Ireland has not yet managed to pass the quarterfinals of a World Cup. Despite this fact, they hold the second place in the official ranking, with a score of 91.17 points.
Many fans may ask, how is this possible if they have never won a World Cup?
Well, the calculation method of the World Rugby contemplates that every team has a rating in the range from 0 to 100. The points system is calculated using a points exchange system, in which a team receives points from the rival, based on the result of every match. As the system aims to describe the current capabilities of the team, the relevant data is the most recent, successes or losses of the past will fade. Therefore, this way it will produce an accurate image that represents the current degree of every team as they change.
Wales – The Red Dragon
The Dragons of Wales have won 26 times the Six Nations Championship; annually, they fight for the title with England, France, Ireland, Italy and Scotland. Their last victory was on 2013 in a match against England, where they were defeated by a record difference of 30 to 3. In 2018, Wales repeated the tour de force of the 1978/1979 championships and have retained the Championship since then.
As a team, Red Dragons are an example of camaraderie, and of solidarity. That comes through when looking at the case of former team member Gareth Thomas, retired since 2011 and fervent activist for the LGBT community, who was the victim of a homophobic aggression in November of 2018. To show solidarity with Thomas and as a gesture of inclusion, Red Dragons wore rainbow laces on their boots.
England- The Rose
The England team has always been on the top ten of the IRB world ranking, they reached the bottom in 2009 with the eighth place, only to go back up, and in 2018 they ranked fourth, well on the way to recover the first place from the Maori squad. The team has been getting every positive result so far but, the World Cup is near, and 20 matches can change everything.
South Africa – The Sprinbokke
On their shoulders lies the responsibility of the national sport of their country, the actual score of the bok is 85.12, and they defend it with claws and teeth. Anyway, the story of this selection is particularly interesting since they were heavily influenced by the politics of racial segregation during the Apartheid. Maybe they can be the big surprise in 2019.