Ireland are the number one side in the world.
Well, that’s according to the official rankings. Ireland’s 19-10 win over Wales at the Aviva Stadium this afternoon has lifted them above New Zealand and into first place for the first time in history.
Of course, this comes with a caveat.
Ireland are not the best team in the world and the nature of warm-up games before a World Cup, with them having a strong tendency to see head coaches field weakened teams, skews the validity of the world rankings.
Nevertheless, it’s yet another achievement for Joe Schmidt as he looks back on his six years at the helm as Ireland’s head coach.
In typical Schmidt fashion, the Kiwi deflected when it was put to him in the post-match press conference that Ireland are now the number one side in the world.
“I didn’t even realise that we were (number one) until I did an interview after the game,” Schmidt said.
“It’s a nice label to get and it’s a nice first time that we’ve been in that position. So we have been lucky enough to tick a few firsts off with this team in the last six years, but that label is not going to be relevant to anyone.
“We all know who the favourites are for the Rugby World Cup, and it’s not us.”
Of course, New Zealand are the favourites to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the third time in a row on November 2 and Schmidt states that the thinking around rankings will be far from their mind.
“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.
“We acknowledge the quality that they bring.”