“I’m quite happy to decline the position,” joked Wales coach Warren Gatland on the World Rugby No 1 ranking. Photo: Frank Augstein/AP

CARDIFF – Warren Gatland has mocked suggestions that Wales do not deserve their No 1 world ranking – saying he is happy to sacrifice the spot to satisfy critics at the top of the sport.

Agustin Pichot, World Rugby’s Argentine vice president, labelled his own governing body’s ranking system “ridiculous’, and suggested Wales should not be top dogs having failed to beat New Zealand for 66 years.

Wales rose to No 1 having beaten England in their last World Cup warm-up, and can stay there by beating Ireland at home on Saturday.

But, speaking in the build-up to that match, Gatland laughed at Pichot’s comments.

“I’m quite happy to decline the position,” he joked.

“We will forfeit it! We didn’t go in and apply for it. If he’s not happy, then take it off us! It doesn’t bother us. We officially decline the position – thanks very much!”

This was in response to Pichot, who said: “It is a ranking that is badly done, and I said it the first day I arrived at World Rugby.

“It has no order, it is all mathematical, and I would say that it is almost a matter of marketing.

“This was demonstrated when Wales never beat New Zealand (since the rankings were created in 2003) and now appears first. It’s ridiculous! I’m going to change it, I assure you.”

Gatland has made 14 changes to the side who beat England for the Ireland game, handing debuts to two 21-year-olds – wing Owen Lane and prop Rhys Carre.

Daily Mail