Boks climb back to No 2

2011-07-19 09:20
Peter de Villiers (File)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

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.

It was revealed on Tuesday that their clash with Samoa is one of only a handful of sell-out RWC encounters thus far, clearly a situation sparked by the islanders’ great Aussie conquest and the renewed fervour of their fans in New Zealand and surrounds. 

Sandwiched in between for the Boks are their “easier” assignments against Fiji, who have been beset by various problems in the lead-up to the World Cup and have also dropped two rungs to 14th in the latest rankings, and the desert warriors of Namibia.

They may be neighbours of the Springboks, but they are nothing like the team who used to give South African provincial sides turbulent Currie Cup outings in Windhoek many years ago during the pre-democracy era.

Namibia stay a lowly 20th on the rankings list.

Read more on:    tn3  |  rwc

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