2007 rankings highs and lows

(IRB.COM) Friday 28 December 2007
By Dominic Kelly
 2007 rankings highs and lows
Patricio Albacete of Argentina is tackled by Simon Easterby of Ireland during the RWC 2007 Pool D match at the Parc des Princes on 30 September 2007

As 2007 began and all eyes looked towards France for IRB Rugby World Cup 2007, New Zealand sat proudly at the top of the IRB World Rankings. 12 months on and well over 300 international matches later, the rankings have a very different look with RWC champions South Africa now looking down on the rest.

We look back at the winners and losers of 2007 as seen through the eyes of the IRB World Rankings.

Ranking climbers

Kazakhstan top the table for the highest ranking climbers during 2007. They started the year in 46th position, but five wins out of five, including a 24-17 victory over Sri Lanka in Colombo to claim the Asiad title, sees them end it 14 places higher in 32nd.

Uganda recorded five wins and one defeat during 2007 to move up 12 places in the rankings from 50th to 38th. The one defeat came at the hands of Kenya in August, but Uganda gained sweet revenge in Antananarivo as they defeated Kenya and then home side Madagascar to claim the CAR Africa Cup title.

China provided further evidence of their potential with four wins out of five in 2007 to move nine places up the rankings to 40th.

Ranking fallers

Malaysia and Venezuela both find themselves 12 places lower in the IRB World Rankings at the end of 2007. Malaysia lost all five of their matches whilst Venezuela suffered three defeats in their three games during the South American B Championship.

Austria also endured a difficult year, dropping 10 places in the IRB World Rankings with three defeats in four matches.

Ratings climbers

The positional changes in the rankings do not tell the whole story of teams’ success or failure during the course of the year. Some teams may have started the year many ratings points adrift of those above them, so despite a number of high-profile wins, may not have moved up the rankings as far as might be expected.

Argentina are a good example. The Pumas began 2007 in sixth place in the IRB World Rankings, more than five ratings points behind Ireland in fifth. A hugely successful IRB Rugby World Cup, where matches counted double towards the rankings, helped Argentina gain 8.35 ratings points – the most of any team – but they only moved up to third in the rankings at the end of 2007. Kazakhstan, who moved up 14 places in the rankings during the year, gained only 4.93 ratings points.

RWC 2007 finalists England and South Africa both gained more than six ratings points during 2007, thanks mainly again to their exploits in France in September and October.

Ratings fallers

The top three ratings fallers all took part in RWC 2007. Ireland dropped furthest – 6.17 points – with six defeats in 2007 including costly reverses against France and Argentina during RWC 2007. Despite claiming fourth and a dramatic win over New Zealand during RWC 2007, hosts France fell 5.55 ratings points, mainly due to the defeats against Argentina (twice) and England that they suffered during the same tournament.

New Zealand were almost nine points clear at the top of the rankings on 1 January 2007. But by the end of the year they had lost five ratings points and dropped to second behind South Africa. Almost four ratings points were lost as a result of their 18-20 defeat at the hands of France in the quarter final of RWC 2007.

Go to the IRB World Rankings analysis tool to compare up to four teams’ rankings.