Wales are about to begin their world cup campaign, with much of the talk from our previous blog (Wales were never world number one) being about how they have never really been the best team in the world, despite world rankings declaring this.
One of the reasons they were ranked so highly was because they won many games by small margins, without having played the All Blacks, so were able to build up ranking points in the official world ranking – resulting in the coveted number one spot.
Our ranking system models margin of victory using more advanced methods than the official ranking, it appreciates that these ‘tight games’ could’ve gone another way on another day and adjusts the rankings accordingly.
Therefore, in our rankings Wales are currently sitting in 5th position, although if they can put together another run of victories – no matter how slim the margins, they could be the team lifting this year’s Rugby World Cup. South Africa has never been ranked world number one but have been World Cup winners in 1995 and 2007.
From a Ranking perspective, Wales are nevertheless in as strong a position as they go into a World Cup. Today’s opponents are Georgia and they have been making progress in world rugby, although it will still be tough for them to be victorious against this much favoured Welsh side.
If Wales win by a significant enough margin today, they will go above South Africa into 4th in the rankings, but if they have a real nightmare it is possible they will lose a ranking place to Australia – which could put a new spin on predictions for who wins the pool when Wales face Australia on the 29th September.