Rugby World Cup 2019: Ireland top rankings after beating Wales

Ireland will travel to Japan as the world's number one ranked side after beating Wales 19-10 on Sunday (NZ time).  

With both sides close to full strength and the intensity dialled up a notch or two, there was far more pressure on Ireland's frontline men to perform after their disappointing Six Nations and record 57-15 warm-up rout by England two weeks ago.

Such are the niceties of rugby's ranking system, tries from Rob Kearney, Tadhg Furlong and James Ryan mean Ireland will arrive in Japan as the top-ranked side for the first time. 

The encouraging performance, however, will mean more.

"Today was really, really important to make sure we took a step forward," captain Rory Best said after the match. 

"There's still a way to go, but that was a very efficient performance against a quality side."

The result also meant Warren Gatland was unable to deny Joe Schmidt a victorious farewell in his final game at the Aviva Stadium, as Schmidt had done to his fellow Kiwi in Cardiff last week with both coaches set to depart after the World Cup.

Ireland, who face a potentially tricky Pool A with Scotland and hosts Japan, begin their campaign against the Scots on September 22.

Wales kick off a day later against Georgia before facing Australia on September 29 in the likely Pool D decider.


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