IRB ranking system goes haywire
It is official: the IRB’s ranking system is the most flawed system in the world at the moment.
For the record this includes, in no particular order, the world’s banking system, the London Olympic ticketing allocation system, and even FIFA’s football nation ranking system.
It can be summed up in this statement on the IRB website: “Ireland, blown away 60-0 by the All Blacks, rise one (place)…”
Yes, that’s right, the Irish this week have traveled up the rankings going from eighth to seventh this week after what could only be described as one of the worst performances in living memory.
The mind boggles as to how this could be possible and how poor the rankings system must be.
What makes this all the more peculiar is that Wales, who lost another close match to the second ranked team, by one point mind you not 60, dropped two spots from fourth to sixth.
The problem is not that an effort is being made to keep the rankings up to date, each Monday midday UK time as it were, but that it is not done on an averaged-out system rather than game by game.
As it stands, points are taken off each team that plays each other. Point allocation or point loss depends on the two respective rankings, whether the game is home or away and of course the result. It also takes into consideration the points difference in the match.
You wouldn’t have thought this based on the fact that Ireland actually went up one place this week. Games at the Rugby World Cup are given double point significance, which seems the only sensible thing about the rankings system.
The problem with this is it is mathematically possible for the All Blacks to refuse to play any more matches and remain in first place possibly for the rest of humanity’s time on earth.
At this point we also need to suspiciously congratulate the very clever Scots for managing to manufacture a June itinerary specifically to rankings jump.
Full credit to them for spotting an opportunity to take some very valuable points from a vulnerable and naive Wallaby team, who were three days between a Super Rugby round and four days before another major Test match. John O’Neill fell for this one hook, line and sinker and the Scots whistled all the way to the rankings bank.
They also should be given a lot of credit for scheduling their other matches against two Pacific Island nations that were keeping them out of the top 10. By defeating both Fiji and Samoa and the big scalp of Australia all away from Scotland, they have risen from 12th to ninth simply by playing the system in their favour and coming up with the goods.
If they can maintain their form this puts them in much better standings for the RWC 2015 draw this December where rankings are key to first be included in the draw automatically, and secondly to be in a favourable pool or half of the draw.
In any case the IRB ranking system is flawed because the top three nations tend to predominately play each other so much that they only ever give and take points from each other and so never really drop down the rankings.
If Argentina can get into fourth place it will surely become a case of the top four nations simply perpetuating each other to stay the top four, leaving the European nations and the odd Pacific Island nation to vie for the fifth to 10th positions for the rest of eternity.
At the moment, the top 10 looks like this:
1. New Zealand
3. South Africa
I know my top 10 would have a much different order. What would yours be?
In the meantime, let’s pray that the Wallabies lose by 60 points to New Zealand in August and jump straight to the top of the ranking.