The Rugby World Cup started off on a slightly underwhelming footing with a myriad of stoppages and TMO referrals blighting the England Fiji game. No one could accuse the South Africa – Japan fixture of being a dirge however as a combination of skill, determination and confidence saw the Asian outfit to a last minute win against the southern hemisphere giants.
Japan’s win over South Africa was the biggest Rugby World Cup upset in ranking terms since rankings were introduced before the 2003 RWC. Prior to the tournament kick off South Africa were ranked 3 and Japan were 13 in the world, giving a 10 place ranking difference.
Georgia’s win over Tonga is also one of the biggest upsets in recent years with a 5 ranking difference between the two teams (Tonga were ranked 11 and Georgia 16 before the tournament started).
Here are the next biggest world cup shocks from 2003 to 2011, based on the team rankings before each tournament commenced.
A number of teams have beaten opponents ranked one place above themselves.