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Premiership Rugby

England enter RWC as top side in Zurich World Rankings

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Despite England's loss to France a fortnight ago, their comfortable win over France at Twickenham and their win over Wales has seen them consolidate their position at the top which they have held since the November internationals of 2002.

Meanwhile, despite a large gain from their southern hemisphere clean sweep New Zealand have to settle for second place although both they and England are someway clear of the likes of Australia and France in third and fourth place respectively.

England boss Clive Woodward said Monday: "We accept that we are up there, probably alongside the All Blacks, but being favourites is nothing – it's about winning.

"Our job as coaches is clear. It's to give this group of players every chance to do something special, and the real hard work starts now. It is about giving your players every chance to become the best side in the world, and it's now up to all of us to try and capitalise on it.

"We are looking forward to the whole experience. We've got an outstanding group of players, and in terms of the selection, I am as convinced as I've ever been that we've got it right."

As in 1999, the 2003 Rugby World Cup sees the top 20 teams in the the Zurich World Rankings compete for rugby's greatest prize.

Four years ago it was New Zealand who went into the RWC as the No.1 side with eventual winners Australia in second-place, South Africa in third, England in fourth whilst France were in fifth.

Zurich World Rankings (as of Sept 6, 2003)

1 England 12982 New Zealand 12783 Australia 1108 4 France 11035 South Africa 10066 Ireland 9297 Argentina 8588 Scotland 7569 Wales 69910 Samoa 67511 Canada 569 12 Fiji 56113 Italy 54914 Tonga 52715 Japan 45716 United States 445 17 Georgia 36318 Romania 35719 Namibia 30320 Uruguay 295

21 Portugal 29222 Russia 276 23 Morocco 25824 Tunisia 25425 Chile 25126= Cote d'Ivoire 23726= Czech Republic 23728 Spain 23429 Korea 22830 Germany 22531 Ukraine 22432 Poland 21933 Netherlands 21834 Cook Islands 21635 Denmark 21136 Croatia 21037 Slovenia 20738 Switzerland 20439 Brazil 19840 Latvia 197

41= Zimbabwe 19641= Sweden 19643 Belgium 19344 Papua New Guinea 193 45 Chinese Taipei 19046 Hong Kong 18847 Paraguay 17148 Madagascar 17349 Kenya 16450 Arabian Gulf 16351 Yugoslavia 15052 Trinidad and Tobago 14753 Hungary 14054 Austria 13555 Bermuda 132 56 Andorra 13157 Malaysia 12658 Thailand 12559 Moldova 12160 China 119

61 Singapore 11262 Uganda 106 63 Lithuania 9864= Zambia 9364= Kazakhstan 9366 Sri Lanka 9167 Botswana 8868 Venezuela 8769= Cameroon 7969= Cayman Islands 7971 Israel 7772 Niue Island 76 73 Bosnia 7074 Tahiti 6875 Malta 6676 Bulgaria 5877 Luxembourg 5778 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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