Rugby World Cup 2019: Ireland coach Joe Schmidt says All Blacks are still 'favourites' in Japan

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt insists the All Blacks are still the team to beat despite his team sitting atop the world rankings heading into the Rugby World Cup. 

Ireland climbed to the summit of World Rugby's rankings for the first time after they beat Wales 19-10 in Dublin on Sunday (NZ time). They overtook the All Blacks, who beat Tonga 92-7 in Hamilton on Saturday. 

When Schmidt took over as Ireland head coach in 2013, they were eighth in the world. The 53-year-old is returning to New Zealand after the World Cup to be closer to his family.  

Speaking after the Wales match, Schmidt shrugged off his side's ascension to the number one spot.

"I didn't realise that we were until I did an interview after the game, that's how far away from our thoughts it has been," he said.

"It's a label, it's a nice label to get, but that label is not going to be relevant for anyone.

"We all know who the favourites are for the Rugby World Cup, and it's not us. Knowing Steve Hansen and Ian Foster… for them, it's far from their minds. They're very process focused and for them it's about getting up, making the ball work and working hard for each other. And, I don't know if you noticed, they do a pretty good job of it."

Ireland, who are in pool A at the World Cup, open their campaign against Scotland on September 22. 


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The ninth Rugby World Cup kicks off on September 20 in Japan - the first time it has been hosted in Asia.