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Premiership Rugby

Wales slump to four-year Zurich Rankings low

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Following their RBS Six Nations defeats to Italy and England, Wales have slipped to ninth in the world which puts them in their worst position since the early part of 1999 before Five Nations' wins over France and England sparked a move up the ladder.It means Steve Hansen's side drop behind Argentina and are some way of the other winless side in the competition so far, Scotland, in seventh place.Scotland, who play Wales at home on March 8 in a likely wooden-spoon decider, have also been heading downward, dropping over 40 rankings points after their performances against Ireland and France.England, meanwhile, remain clear of New Zealand at the top of the tree as they extended their winning run to eight Tests but a slip-up against either Scotland or Ireland would almost certainly see them lose the No.1 position that they have held since the November campaign.Eddie O'Sullivan's Ireland also continue to make ground and are secure at sixth in the rankings, although even if they came away with a Grand Slam, it would be unlikely that they would overtake fifth-placed South Africa.Lower down the table, Portugal's two recent upset wins in the European Nations Cup, or Six Nations B competition, over Spain and Romania have seen them move up three places to 21st, ahead of Russia who were not in action last weekend.

Zurich World Rankings (as of February 24, 2003)

(-) 1 England 1221 (+4)2 New Zealand 12063 Australia 1146 (-) 4 France 1125 (+13)5 South Africa 1045(-) 6 Ireland 875 (+18)(-) 7 Scotland 793 (-42)(+1) 8 Argentina 755 (-1) 9 Wales 734 (-38)10 Samoa 680 11 Canada 603  (-) 12 Italy 599 (+26)13 Fiji 567 14 Tonga 504 15 Japan 471 16 Romania 362 17 Georgia 35517 United States 345 19 Uruguay 295 20 Namibia 294

(+3) 21 Portugal 281(-1) 22 Russia 276(-1) 23= Tunisia 262(-1) 23= Korea 26225 Chile 26026 Morocco 25127 Spain 250(+1) 28 Cote d'Ivoire 240(+1) 29 Poland 234(-2) 30 Netherlands 232 (-16)31 Cook Islands 23032 Zimbabwe 22933 Czech Republic 22534 Ukraine 22235 Croatia 21036 Denmark 208 37 Germany 20638 Switzerland 20539 Sweden 20440 Slovenia 198

(+5) 41= Belgium 198 (+15)41= Brazil 198(-1) 43 Papua New Guinea 193(-1) 44 Latvia 192(-1) 45 Chinese Taipei 190(-1) 46 Hong Kong 18847 Paraguay 17848= Yugoslavia 16948= Madagascar 16950 Arabian Gulf 16351 Kenya 14952 Trinidad & Tobago 14753 Austria 14154 Hungary 13955 Bermuda 13256= Malaysia 13156= Andorra 13158 Thailand 12559 China 11960 Moldova 108

61= Lithuania 10461= Singapore 10463 Uganda 10164 Kazakhstan 9365 Botswana 9266 Sri Lanka 9167 Venezuela 8768 Zambia 8369= Cameroon 7969= Cayman Islands 7971 Israel 7872 Tahiti 7273 Bosnia 6574 Malta 5875= Bulgaria 5575= Niue Island 5577 Luxembourg 5078 Jamaica 4879= Solomon Islands 3779= Peru 3781 Monaco 3682 Swaziland 3483 Barbados 2984= Mexico 2684= Norway 2686= Bahamas 2486= Guyana 2488 Vanuatu 2389 Colombia 20

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