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England top rugby world rankings

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LONDON, England -- England confirmed their status as World Cup favorites by being named the world's number one team by the International Board.

The Six Nations champions top the first official rankings with 89.95 points out of a maximum 100, just ahead of Tri-nations champions New Zealand (89.8) with Six Nations runners-up Ireland a surprise third on 83.92.

World champions Australia, who open their title defense against Argentina on October 10, are fourth on 83.81 with France fifth on 82.85.

The only team participating in the World Cup outside the top-20 are Namibia, who are 25th, behind Portugal, Morocco, Korea, Russia and Chile.

Rugby Board officials said the rankings were tested against a database of more than 4,500 international matches dating back to 1871.

One rating point difference between countries is equivalent to two points on the field, therefore England, who play 17th-ranked Georgia (63.80) in their opening World Cup match in Perth on October 12, are expected to win by at least 52 points.

When two teams meet the system also allows for a home field advantage equivalent to three rankings points (six points on the field).

Top 20 IRB world rankings points:

1. England 89.95 2. New Zealand 89.80 3. Ireland 83.92 4. Australia 83.81 5. France 82.85 6. South Africa 80.92 7. Argentina 80.00 8. Samoa 74.67 9. Scotland 74.42 10. Wales 74.24

11. Fiji 72.45 12. Tonga 70.08 13. Italy 69.98 14. USA 68.42 15. Romania 67.73 16. Canada 66.2117. Georgia 63.80 18. Japan 62.68 19. Uruguay 62.65 20. Portugal 62.03

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