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Ireland top of the world – almost!

Members of the Irish rugby team celebrating after their win over New Zealand. Inpho photo.


By Irish Echo Staff

Ireland are on top of the world after beating the New Zealand all Blacks at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.

But the Irish rugby team is not quite atop the world rugby rankings.

Not yet anyway.

Nevertheless, following the first home win over the New Zealanders (the Irish beat the Kiwis for the first time at Soldier field in Chicago two years ago), Joe Schmidt and his team have reached the highest ranking ever.

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While the number one spot is held by New Zealand, who retain their place as the highest ranked team, Ireland’s first ever home win over the All Blacks has bumped them up the table to close the gap to just 1.37 ranking points, reported the Irish Times.

Saturday’s win in Dublin earned Ireland 1.05 points, while the All Blacks came down from 93.58 points to 92.54 points. That means Ireland’s current points total of 91.17 is their highest ever, stated the report.

Schmidt, who is himself a New Zealander, led his team past the 90-point mark for the first time last June on the back of a series success in Australia. Ireland have now won 17 of the last 18 Test matches since March 2017 and gained 7.99 rating points during that time.

Added the Times report: Although Ireland are considered by many to be the best team in the world right now, they have never been ranked the number one team in the world.

“New Zealand have been the most consistently ranked side since the introduction of IRB World Rankings in 2003, having held the top position for the last 469 consecutive weeks. They have been the top team for 85 per cent of the time that the rankings have existed while South Africa and England make up the remainder.”

The weekend was also a good one for the U.S. national rugby team, the USA Eagles.

“Ireland’s high watermark coincides with the USA’s elevation following their 31-5 win over Romania in Bucharest. That win lifts the Eagles, who play Ireland this weekend, to their highest ever ranking of 13th in the world following a tremendous year in which they have won all nine of their 2018 Tests. They are now higher than the 14th ranked Conor O’Shea-coached Italian side,” the Times reported.

The USA will, not surprisingly, will face a daunting task against the surging Irish. The Irish handily beat the Eagles when the two teams last faced each other at Red Bulls Stadium in New Jersey last year.