Boks top Wallabies in latest rankings

2011-07-20 00:00

CAPE TOWN — South Africa have moved back up the International Rugby Board rankings to second in the world, elbowing out Australia, who slip to third after their disastrous 32-23 home defeat to Samoa at the weekend.

Of course that supremacy could be short-lived, as a palpably under-strength Springbok side will square up to a much more fully-staffed and perhaps hopping-mad Wallabies team in the Tri-Nations opener in Sydney on Saturday.

But if John Smit’s side do manage to knock over their hosts, they will only cement their status at No 2, albeit still a long way off top-placed New Zealand.

The All Blacks, soon to enjoy staging the World Cup on their own turf, have a lofty 93.19 rating points, with the Boks on 86.44 and Wallabies on their tails with 85.45.

The gap between New Zealand and the Boks in first and second is bigger than any between teams in the IRB top 10 at present.

Despite their rip-roaring showing against Australia, Samoa remain unchanged in 10th spot for the time being.

This is three places behind seventh-ranked Wales, South Africa’s other “major” group opponents at the World Cup whom they play in their opening Pool D match at Wellington on September 11.

Nevertheless, many critics may now be suspecting that the ultra-physical, tails-up Samoans will represent a slightly harder nut to crack than the Welsh, especially given the southern hemisphere environment in which the game will take place.

The Boks’ date with Samoa is their final pool game at North Harbour on September 30, so Smit’s defending champions clearly face their toughest fixtures first and then last. Their clash with Samoa is one of only a handful of sell-out World Cup encounters thus far.

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