Rugby World Cup power rankings: Which nations move up as tournament continues?

The Rugby World Cup is up and running with every nation now having played at least one game.

Uruguay and Portugal produced standout performances on the second weekend of the tournament, pushing France and Wales closer than expected.

Ireland and South Africa, meanwhile, remain unbeaten ahead of a crunch Pool B meeting this weekend in Paris.

How has the action in France affected our power rankings?

Here, The Independent assesses how every nation stacks up as the World Cup rolls on. Get all the latest rugby betting sites offers here and sign up to bet365 using The Independent’s unique bonus code by clicking here.

Rugby World Cup power rankings

Tier one – true contenders:

1. France (↔️)

 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

A scratchy performance from France’s second string against Uruguay, but they avoided disaster. There is little to choose between the first four sides but you fancy the hosts will be hard to stop at the Stade de France with the crowd behind them.

2. Ireland (⬆️1)

Jumping up one spot this week are Ireland, who put a potentially troublesome Tonga to the sword. Their attack is humming, with Bundee Aki in outstanding form and Johnny Sexton very much back in the swing of things – and with a points record, too.

3. South Africa (⬇️1)

South Africa overwhelmed Romania, but drop a spot below their opponents this weekend on account of Ireland’s impressive showing and the injury to Malcolm Marx. The decision to replace the hooker with fly half Handre Pollard feels risky – though the Springboks remain real contenders, of course.

4. New Zealand (↔️)


The All Blacks bounced back from their opening night defeat to France by thrashing Namibia. Building momentum will be key ahead of the quarter-finals.

Tier two – best of the rest:

5. Scotland (↔️)

It always looked a tough start for Scotland, and their failure to get their attacking game clicking left their forwards with too much to do against the mighty Springboks pack. Gregor Townsend’s side will retool, reload and target their meeting with Ireland on Saturday 7 October.

Tier three – more questions than answers:

6. England (⬆️1)

England are up to sixth in our rankings, with two wins from two not to be sniffed at. Having found a performance to be proud of facing the Pumas at the Stade Velodrome, things weren’t quite as good against Japan, but a bonus-point victory and the continuing success of the kick pressure strategy will please Steve Borthwick.

7. Fiji (⬆️2)


Having come close and yet so far on a glorious night of rugby against Wales in Bordeaux, Simon Raiwalui’s side got over the line against Australia for the first time in 69 years to open up Pool C. The offloading skill remains but what is clear is how this Fijian side has come on in structure, with their tactical kicking game and scrum vastly improved from previous iterations.

8. Wales (↔️)

Taulupe Faletau’s final-minute try and the bonus point it secured against Portugal could yet prove crucial for Wales, who have a maximum 10 points from two pool games. A few of those pushing for places against Australia failed their auditions, though Faletau is getting better by the week and Rio Dyer was namechecked by Warren Gatland afterwards.

9. Australia (⬇️3)

A sizeable drop in our rankings for the Wallabies, in part because of the defeat to Fiji but also the injuries to Taniela Tupou and captain Will Skelton. Australia are a different team without the pair’s power on the tighthead side and as carriers. A full five points against Wales may now be a must.

10. Argentina (↔️)

Was their four-place drop last week an overreaction to one defeat? Perhaps, but Argentina were so far removed from their best in Marseille, surprisingly short of thought and intensity against England’s 14 men. Michael Cheika cut a frustrated figure at full-time – work will have been done during the rest week to avoid a pool stage exit.

Tier four – could cause a shock:

11. Samoa (↔️)

A slightly clunky start against Chile for Samoa, but eventually they pulled away in a bitty game. The Pacific Islanders are well coached by Seilala Mapusua and quietly have assembled one of the more complete squads in the tournament – if they can gel fully for the Argentina clash this Friday, they’ll have a shot at an upset.

12. Italy (↔️)

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

An imperfect performance against Namibia in the St Etienne heat, but five tournament points leave Italy top of Pool A, with a good chance of another bonus-point victory in their next encounter with Uruguay on Wednesday. Stunning France or New Zealand still might prove a step beyond Kieran Crowley’s side.

13. Georgia (↔️)

A few glimpses of why Georgia will be a Pool C threat in defeat to Australia in Paris. The win in Cardiff and besting of Italy last year have raised Georgian hopes of progressing out of their World Cup pool for the first time, but you fear that Fiji and Wales will also have a little bit too much for Los Lelos.

14. Japan (↔️)

A sloppy showing from both sides on Sunday night in Nice saw Jamie Joseph ruing Japan’s misfortune, with the first two England tries coming courtesy of a lineout misfire and a lucky ricochet of Joe Marler’s head. Japan faded a little late on and while some trademark attacking creativity promises much, Joseph’s side must be more clinical.

15. Tonga (↔️)

After a disappointing first showing against Ireland, continuing questions at fly half and in the front row will concern coach Toutai Kefu in such a tough pool. There is no doubting that Tonga have talent but it was a performance of individuals rather than a cohesive team effort in Nantes.

Tier five – development the key:

16. Uruguay (↔️)

Mega-impressive from Uruguay against France on a night where most wrote off Los Teros’ chances, denying the hosts a bonus point. A couple of friendlier bounces of the ball and a different view of Romain Taofifenua’s head-high tackle and perhaps Uruguay could even have produced a real shock. A short turnaround to the fixture might make the task just slightly too large against Italy, though.

17. Portugal (↔️)

The other underdog to come out of the second weekend most certainly in credit, Portugal’s attacking game caused Wales plenty of problems. Patrice Lagisquet suggested his frustration at full-time came from the fact that he felt his side had not even played their best, with an injury that hampered kicker Samuel Marques also a disappointment. Certainly, though, none of Pool C’s other combatants will take the Portuguese lightly.

18. Chile (↔️)

This year’s only World Cup debutants have come a long way in a short space of time and showed as much against Japan and Samoa with two vibrant performances keeping them 18th in our rankings. There will be a step-up in quality against England in Lille.

19. Namibia (↔️)

A drop down in quality from Namibia against New Zealand from their opener against Italy, as was always likely given the might of their opposition and a short turnaround. Uruguay’s performance against France may suggest that a first Namibian World Cup win is unlikely, but the African side were within eight points of Los Teros earlier in the summer and will be targeting their 27 September meeting.

20. Romania (↔️)

Playing Ireland and then South Africa back-to-back was a nightmare start for Romania, probably the nation at this World Cup with the worst outlook for the future with questions swirling about the Oaks’ rugby programme. A weekend off should help Eugen Apjok’s side before taking on Scotland and Tonga.