The All Blacks' win helped them maintain their record as the only nation to win every RWC pool match. Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets

TOKYO – New Zealand have returned to the top of the World Rugby Men’s Rankings after beating South Africa 23-13 at the International Stadium Yokohama during the opening weekend of matches at Rugby World Cup 2019.

The All Blacks' win, which maintained their proud record as the only nation to win every pool match at rugby’s showpiece event, lifted them above Ireland who kicked off their campaign with a 27-3 defeat of Scotland at the same stadium a day later.

South Africa’s defeat has seen them drop below Wales into fifth with Scotland falling one to eighth after their defeat and France’s nail-biting 23-21 defeat of Argentina at Tokyo Stadium on Saturday.

New Zealand and South Africa flag-bearers at the International Stadium Yokohama,Yokohama City on Saturday. Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets
New Zealand and South Africa flag-bearers at the International Stadium Yokohama,Yokohama City on Saturday. Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets

The final change in the top 10 sees hosts Japan equal their highest ever ranking of ninth. The Brave Blossoms’ 30-10 win over Russia in the opening match did not affect their rating, but Fiji’s 39-21 loss to Australia was enough to drop them below Japan.

While all eyes were on Japan for the opening weekend of Rugby World Cup 2019, there was one other match which counted towards the rankings played in Africa.

Kenya overcame Zimbabwe 36-14 in the final match of the Victoria Cup 2019 on Saturday to climb two places to 32nd, lifting them above Colombia and Zimbabwe. 

Sevu Reece of New Zealand and Makazole Mapimpi of South Africa contest for the high ball at the International Stadium Yokohama. Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets
Sevu Reece of New Zealand and Makazole Mapimpi of South Africa contest for the high ball at the International Stadium Yokohama. Photo: Steve Haag Sports / Hollywoodbets

African News Agency (ANA)