The second round of the 2023 Rugby World Cup saw some eye-opening scores and resulted in a few seismic shifts in this week’s power rankings.
The likes of France, Australia and England on the other hand, pay for what can best be described as lethargic, muddled or, in England’s case, downright boring displays.
Do you agree with the rankings below? Join the debate in the comments section. And remember, you can also compile your own rankings at the foot of this page... and also take a look back at round one here
20. Romania (–)
Played two, 150 points against, eight for. Little more needs to be said.
19. Namibia (-2)
Namibia looked ragged and disorganised against New Zealand, admittedly in a game they were never going to win.
18. Chile (–)
Chile are unmoved after a strong first-half showing against Samoa. They fell away in the second half, however, and will be hoping to ruffle a few English feathers.
17. Portugal (+2)
The surprise of the weekend? Perhaps, but anyone who had watched Portugal play so enterprisingly in the Rugby Europe Championship will not have been surprised. Almost denied Wales a try-scoring bonus point and for a brief moment looked as if they could cause an upset.
16. Georgia (-1)
Georgia, having not played this weekend, are victims of punchy showings elsewhere. A loss to Australia keeps them in 16th but a win over either Fiji or Wales would be a mighty fillip.
15. Tonga (-1)
There had been hopes of a Tongan upset against Ireland, but they were entirely misplaced. The Pacific Islanders were outclassed in every department by one of the tournament favourites.
14. Japan (-1)
They might have caused England a few problems but the truth is that these Brave Blossoms are a long way off the 2015 and 2019 vintage. They might have to beat Argentina to avoid finishing bottom of Pool D.
13. Uruguay (+3)
12. Argentina (–)
Like Georgia, Argentina are victims of having not played, without any chance of atoning for their opening-weekend disaster. They face Samoa on Friday and the victor might join England in the quarter-finals. Certainly, a loss for Los Pumas and it’ll be curtains.
11. Samoa (–)
Samoa had to wait eight days to get their World Cup campaign up and running, and it showed in the opening 40 minutes. They were a touch clunky against a spirited Chilean effort but ran away with it in the second half. Argentina will not fancy playing them to keep their tournament hopes alive – nor might England.
10. Australia (-3)
The Wallabies were shorn of two of their most dangerous players – Taniela Tupou and Will Skelton, who will also miss the Wales match next Sunday – but in honesty Eddie Jones’s side was comfortably outclassed. Australia, until Suliasi Vunivalu’s late try, never looked like stopping a Fijian procession.
9. Wales (-1)
Unlike Australia, at least Wales won – and, although they left it late, it was with a bonus point. Admittedly it was against Portugal, but the fact remains that Warren Gatland’s side are 10 points from two matches and a win against Australia next Sunday will almost guarantee them a quarter-final as Pool C winners.
8. Italy (+2)
Due to others crumbling around them, the Azzurri have gone up two places without so much as lacing a boot. Lose to Uruguay on Wednesday, however, and Italy will tumble.
7. England (-2)
Harsh or about right? It was not pretty from Steve Borthwick’s side, but they managed to get over the line with a bonus point. Given the standard of the opposition, however, as well as results elsewhere, they drop down two spots. All eyes now turn to that Samoa match at the end of the pool stages.
6. Scotland (–)
Scotland, having not played, stay as they are. There is still a chance, of course, that they escape this pool – albeit slim. A win against Tonga next Sunday would get their campaign back on track before the grand challenge of Ireland in October.
5. Fiji (+4)
Mesmeric, simply mesmeric. A completely deserved victory, with the Flying Fijians hustling and haggling Australia in almost all areas. Josua Tuisova and Waisea Nayacalevu gave the midfield showing of the tournament so far, while Levani Botia terrorised the Wallabies at the breakdown. There is a chance now that they progress as pool winners and no one could say they don’t deserve that.
4. France (-3)
Fabien Galthié made 12 changes to the side that defeated New Zealand on the opening weekend and, for a brief period against Uruguay, he might have wished that he hadn’t. France did not look like world champions with a much-changed side that was still easily strong enough to put Uruguay to the sword (and didn’t).
3. New Zealand (+1)
The All Blacks do not quite deserve gushing praise for overwhelming an abject Namibian side but they could only play what was in front of them – and they did that with aplomb, scoring 11 tries in Toulouse. Tougher challenges to come for New Zealand, but a professional display nonetheless.
2. South Africa (–)
Similarly, South Africa do not deserve histrionics for navigating the worst team in the tournament, but the Springboks did what they had to, running in 11 tries and keeping the Romanians to nul points. Against under-powered opposition, South Africa proved they are peaking ahead of their Irish test next weekend.
1. Ireland (+2)
Slick, efficient and on another level to the Tongan output. Andy Farrell’s side could not have prepared better – with a ruthless period each side of half-time – for the challenge of the world-champion Springboks next Saturday, the game of the pool stages.
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