and they extend their lead as the Number One Ranked Team
On the day, Wales were not able to pull off an underdog triumph, so the Bronze Final ends with New Zealand defeating Wales. The Grand Slam champions gave us a more entertaining game this week but unfortunately didn’t quite manage to translate that into the win they hoped for. They have demonstrated great rugby under coach Gatland. ‘Gatland bows out after 12 years in charge, a period in which Wales have won four Six Nations titles – including three Grand Slams, and reached two World Cup semi-finals.’1
So, what does this mean?
The result gives New Zealand a degree of redemption, helps them recover some of their ranking score and gain a bit more lead (0.5 ranking score) over second ranked England.
New Zealand as a nation see rugby as an integral part of their culture, so it’s not surprising that the 2019 World Cup was viewed as a disappointment by their nation’s press. With a stark lack of imagery and headlines such as:
‘The All Blacks are out of the World Cup. If you want to read more, go to the sports section.’ 2
You can easily empathise with the gravity of this result for the Kiwis.
However, if you look at the All Blacks performances purely from a ranking point of view, you start to see a different picture. Starting the tournament as the highest ranked team in the world, holding onto that throughout the whole tournament and improving the ranking score shows the dominance of this team over their competitors.
The group stages saw continued improvements to the ranking score through impressive wins over South Africa, Canada and Namibia. The Quarter Final then saw an incredible display of rugby leading to a more than comfortable win over the highly respected Irish side, shooting their ranking score into the stratosphere.
The semi-final however, presented a different outcome. New Zealand under-performed and lost to an impressive, dominant England side. This result cost their ranking score badly as all they saw all the gains they made from beating Ireland plummet to pre-tournament levels.
Losing to England is something of a “double whammy”, since it also put England in touching distance of the coveted World Number one spot. But in true All Black fashion, New Zealand have regrouped to end their World Cup with a comfortable victory over Wales, win the Bronze Final and re-create a buffer for their World Number one position.
It is now up to England to not only beat South Africa but to do so in a manner that could complete their impressive World Cup campaign. By winning the World Cup and taking over the World Number one ranking. More on this in out next blog post.
Let’s not forget about Wales
By comparison, Wales ended their campaign on a bit of a low note, despite performing admirably during the tournament. Looking at their ranking score over time, the trajectory exhibits clear signs of steady gains in the first half of the tournament, followed by steady losses in the second half.
They started the tournament ranked in fifth and spent the pool stages in an exciting proxy battle for the fourth rank with South Africa. Wales found themselves in fourth place on no fewer than four separate occasions, but finally conceded the place to South Africa following their below par victory over Uruguay on October 13th. This match represented the start of the decline in Wales’ ranking score which culminated in their loss in the Bronze medal match to New Zealand.
Wales must now be looking to the Six Nations 2020 to begin to rebuild their team and rugby heritage and they are certainly in an interesting position to do so.