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Premiership Rugby

England extend lead at top of Zurich Rankings

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

England now have some breathing space between themselves and the second-placed New Zealand, but with a June 14 date in Wellington already looming large Clive Woodward's men will have to battle hard to stay there through all the RWC 2003 warm-up action ahead of the big kick-off on October 10.

Meanwhile, Ireland, despite their fall at the last, take the honour of being the most-improved side in the Zurich World Rankings over the course of the 2003 Six Nations, picking up a total of 36 rankings points to move to yet another all-time high in the rankings.

Italy too were big improvers although they were unable to overhaul Canada for 11th place whilst in contrast Wales were the side to suffer most, dropping a record 70 points over the competition to edge them towards the 700-point mark and their lowest-ever rankings points total of 691 way back in 1998 on the back of their summer tour of South Africa.

Fellow Celts Scotland fared a little better to remain in seventh place ahead of Argentina, but still let slip over 50 rankings points in their campaign.

Lower down the table, European Nations' Cup Grand Slam winners, Portugal, continue their progress on the world ladder but just fell short of breaking into the world's top 20 nations.

Zurich World Rankings (as of April 1, 2003):

(-) 1 England 1239 (+18)2 New Zealand 1206  3 Australia 1146  (-) 4 France 1139 (+14)5 South Africa 1045  (-) 6 Ireland 893 (+18)(-) 7 Scotland 783 (-10)8 Argentina 755  (-) 9 Wales 702 (-32)10 Samoa 680  11 Canada 603  (-) 12 Italy 593 (-6)13 Fiji 567  (-) 14 Tonga 523 (+19)  15 Japan 471  (-) 16 Romania 383 (+21)(-) 17 Georgia 359 (+4)18 United States 345  19 Uruguay 295  20 Namibia 294

(-) 21 Portugal 292 (+11)(-) 22 Russia 269 (-7)(+2) 23 Chile 260 (-1) 24 Tunisia 254 (-8)(+1) 25 Morocco 251 (-1) 26 Spain 246 (-4)(-4) 27 Korea 241 (-21)28 Cote d'Ivoire 240(+4) 29 Czech Republic 232 (+7)(+1) 30 Cook Islands 230(+1) 31 Zimbabwe 229(-2) 32 Netherlands 223 (-9)(+1) 33= Ukraine 222(+4) 33= Germany 222 (+16)(-6) 35 Poland 221 (-13)(-1) 36 Croatia 210(-1) 37 Denmark 208 (+1) 38 Sweden 204(-1) 39 Switzerland 203 (-2)(+1) 40 Belgium 199 (+1)

(-1) 41= Slovenia 19841= Brazil 19843 Papua New Guinea 19344 Latvia 19245 Chinese Taipei 19046 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 62 (+4)75= Bulgaria 5575= Niue Island 55(-1) 78= Luxembourg 48 (-2)78= 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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