Rugby Union


Australia surrender No.2 spot to Boks

Johannesburg: South Africa's emphatic five-try victory against Australia in Pretoria last week has catapulted them above the Wallabies into second place on the IRB world rankings.

Not that there were any doubts, but the updated rankings confirm the two best teams in world rugby will go head-to-head in Soweto on Sunday morning (Sydney time).

The Springboks, who surrendered second spot with a quarter-final exit at the World Cup in New Zealand last year, might only hold a narrow four-tenths of a point lead over Robbie Deans's third-ranked side, but the All Blacks feel that truly reflects the state of international supremacy.

''When you look at the performance from last weekend and how dominant the Springboks were, it's a fair indication,'' All Blacks hooker Keven Mealamu said.

Australia's first grand slam tour in 25 years now takes on greater importance before the 2015 World Cup pool announcement on December 3.

With the top four teams set to be kept apart in the pool rounds, the Wallabies cannot afford any further losses against the premier nations as they sit just two points above England and France.


Their match against England at Twickenham on November 17 could be pivotal to deciding the World Cup draw.

All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster felt the change in rankings reminded the world champions their dominance could not be taken for granted.

''Certainly on last week's performance you could say it is [a fair assessment], but let's not forget Australia beat the Springboks in Australia,'' Foster said. ''That just shows how close this championship is. When you see Australia beat South Africa and then the other way around it reminds us about the fine line and never thinking ahead of ourselves.

''We've done that well so far, but this challenge on Sunday is going to test our character and desire to do that again. South Africa are clearly … in great form.''