England retain their No 1 ranking, but they are only 20 points ahead of the in-form New Zealand side. All 20 World Cup sides are ranked in the world's top 20.
The rankings indicate that Pool A will be the most tightly contested at the Cup, with Australia ranked third and coming up against two of the big improvers in world rugby - Ireland (No 6) and Argentina (No 7).
Wales are in Pool D with New Zealand (No 2), Canada (No 11), Italy (No 13) and Tonga (No 14).
In the 1999 World Cup, New Zealand went in as the No 1 side with eventual winners Australia in second place and runners-up France fifth.
Zurich World Rankings (as of Sept 6, 2003): 1. England 1298 points, 2. New Zealand 1278, 3. Australia 1108, 4. France 1103, 5. South Africa 1006, 6. Ireland 929, 7. Argentina 858, 8. Scotland 756, 9. Wales 699, 10. Samoa 675, 11. Canada 569, 12. Fiji 561, 13. Italy 549, 14. Tonga 527, 15. Japan 457, 16. United States, 17. Georgia 363, 18. Romania 357, 19. Namibia 303, 20. Uruguay 295.
WRU International Skills Coach Jason Strange is a busy man, combining the new role with that of Wales Under 20 attack coach, Ebbw Vale head coach and continuing to teach at Ebbw Fawr Learning Community.
Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton look ahead to this week's crunch RBS 6 Nations tie against France, where the Wales skipper in particular is keen to make his mark, as Paris has proved a bleak place for him in the past.
Following their historic win over England, Wales Under 20 suffered a narrow, 36-34 loss to their Scottish counterparts last weekend, despite outscoring them by five tries to three. Watch the match highlights and reaction.
WRU TV go behind the scenes with the Wales squad as they put the final touches in place ahead of the clash against Scotland at Murrayfield. Follow the squad on their captain's run, the kickers visit to Murrayfield and Neil Jenkins' press conference