Rugby World Cup power rankings: Assessing England, South Africa and the final four

Rugby World Cup power rankings

1. South Africa

Holders South Africa reached the semi-finals with a brilliant win over France

Top of the pile after pipping the hosts in Paris are the Springboks. In a game of fine margins, their bench impact and calm telling crucial in the final few moments. England will be charged up for the semi-final given what happened in Yokohama four years ago but this version of South Africa might be even better.

2. New Zealand

The All Blacks take on Argentina in the last four

New Zealand took the other instant classic in Paris, their 37-phase final defensive stand a remarkable physical and mental achievement. All three Barrett brothers were outstanding at the Stade de France, with Sam Cane producing a real captain’s performance, too.

3. England

England beat Fiji to reach another World Cup semi-final

Credit must be extended to Steve Borthwick and England, who have navigated their way into a World Cup semi-final that, while far from ever being out of reach, looked distant during their August struggles. Will the emotional intensity of a World Cup final rematch against the Springboks enable them to lift their level?

4. Argentina

Argentina will hope to shock New Zealand and reach a first World Cup final

Argentina celebrated their quarter-final win over Wales wildly, perhaps recognising that a last four berth makes this tournament a success. But the Pumas will be in the mix against the All Blacks, a side they beat twice during the four-year cycle before this tournament and who perhaps have a few physical frailties that Argentina’s gainline winners are capable of exploiting.

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