An impressive display by South Africa lead them to claim the 2019 World Cup. Their 32-12 victory over England in the final saw the Springboks take the Webb Ellis trophy home for the third time.
Despite a strong win, there was no opportunity for South Africa to improve their ranking position, as no result could increase their rankings score enough to catch Ireland who ranked third.
So, at the end of the tournament, our model shows the fourth ranked team won. This is in contrast to the official rankings who place South Africa ‘top of the World Rugby Rankings for the first time since 16 November 2009.’ 1 We cover this discrepancy in our white paper, found here: https://rugbyworldrankings.co.uk/turning-the-table-on-rugby-world-rankings/
What the final score line did give South Africa, was an improvement of 0.4 points in their ranking score. This has helped them pull away from the teams below, including ranking foes Wales who finished in fifth, and naturally close the gap on the teams above them in the table.
What a journey to the Final!
Following a slightly below par loss to top ranked side New Zealand in the opening game, South Africa demonstrated their ability to build their ranking score gradually with nearly every game they played on their route to lifting the World Cup. The only time their ranking score didn’t increase was following the defeat of Japan 26-3 in the quarter final. This score line was judged to be the expected margin at that date by the two competing teams.
But, South Africa saved the best till last. Their most impressive result of the campaign came in the final against England, as they claimed the World Cup with a 32-12 victory and took their ranking score from 8.6 up to a powerful 9.0.
England made strong progress despite missing out on the Cup
England’s World Cup may have ended in disappointment for both the team and their fans, but taking stock of their performances over the tournament, there is plenty to be proud of. England remain in a strong position having increased their ranking score significantly throughout the World Cup and leaving a strong base on which to further build and vie for the top ranking spot.
Starting as the second ranked team in the world, England held onto this position for the entire tournament. Their ranking score improved steadily until their impressive victory over New Zealand in the semi-final, which brought them within touching distance of the coveted number one spot.
Unfortunately, this time they were unable to complete the job. However, the ranking progress made by the England team during the tournament is something to be proud of. This can be built upon in future games through strong wins against their opponents.
We are watching this story with bated breath as England are the closest in ranking score that any team has been to New Zealand in at least 10 years. Close enough for New Zealand to hear England clamour for that top spot.