South Africa defeat Wales…

to reach World Cup Final 2019 and put the Death Nail in the Official World Rankings

South Africa were victorious in the highly contested semi-final match with Wales, earning the right to face England in the 2019 Rugby World Cup Final. This is hugely important to the South African side who could now match New Zealand’s World Cup haul of three with a win in the final. 

Congratulations to South Africa for getting to this stage. But, let’s not forget we have been competing with the official ranking table and this win helped cement victory of our ranking model over the official. The start of this game placed South Africa as the fourth best team in the world in both models, however our model differed in ranking Wales as fifth instead of third. The official rankings predicted Wales to be the victors so when South Africa emerged as the winners it provided empirical evidence, in real time, that our model is outperforming the official rankings. 

The methods used by the two models agree in the predictions for the Final and Bronze decider – England and New Zealand by the way. Unfortunately there are no more opportunities, this tournament, to further test the models against each other. Therefore, the highest performing method can be declared the victor and we believe it is our method! 

Where did the models differ? 

The first occasion was the pool D fixture, 3rd October between Fiji and Georgia1. The official table ranked Georgia higher, so we felt pretty smug when our prediction of a comfortable victory for Fiji was realised with a 45 – 10 win.  

Next up, the Pool A decider between Japan and Scotland. Our model backed Scotland, but the red samurai continued their fairy tale tournament to cause a second major upset and tie between the official ranking method and our own. 

The third, and final, occasion when the quality of the competing ranking models was tested was the semi-final between South Africa and Wales. Our model pitched South Africa, the higher ranked team, as favourites but respected the closeness in abilities of the two competing teams2. The result, 19-16 to South Africa, confirmed our predictions and exposed shortcomings in the official rankings which placed Wales as the higher ranked team.  

Our original White Paper3 explains that our ranking method had been retrospectively applied to the last four Rugby World Cups and saw a consistently higher accuracy than the official model. We’re pleased that this has continued to be evident throughout the 2019 tournament.  

With this reinforced comfort in our model, we plan to allow our methods to be utilised not only by World Rugby – should they want a better model, but also by other sporting organisations. Those organisations who would benefit from better awareness of the strongest teams and players in their field. We believe that this would remove the need to depend on outdated methodologies that are systematically ignored or followed incorrectly.