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.
Wales and Ospreys back row James King, who came through the North Wales age grade system, nominated North Wales Regional Community Rugby Manager Marc Roberts, in the WRU's 'Diolch' initiative where squad players thanked those who played a part in their rise to the top.
Beating Merthyr has boosted Carmarthen Quins hopes of reaching a top eight spot in the Principality Premiership. Quins captain Haydn Pugh is delighted with his team's progress and is determined that everyone from the Under 6s through to the senior team, enjoys the ride.
When the Wales squad were asked to nominate individuals who played a big part in their early playing days, Wales and Dragons full back and wing Hallam Amos thought of his former Monmouth School rugby coach John Bevan.
Sam Cross and Luke Treharne have been named as co-captains of the Wales Sevens side as head coach Gareth Williams names his 12-man squad to play in the first leg of the HSBC World Series in Dubai next weekend.
Bedwas head coach Steve Law and players Nicky Griffiths and Alun Rees extol the virtues of the close knit club as they prepare to host third place RGC 1404 - who are one place head of them on the Principality Premiership points table - on Saturday.
Many of the Wales squad have said Diolch (thank you) to someone who played an important part in their early playing days by nominating them to be invited to the Wales v South Africa match. One person, Gowerton Comprehensive geography teacher Mr Dean Mason was nominated by two of his former pupils, Dan Biggar and Sam Davies.
The second WRU disability rugby pilot has been delivered, this time in Caerphilly schools, culminating in a festival at the Caerphilly Centre of Sporting Excellence, Ystrad Mynach tomorrow. Plans are in place to set up a Disability Rugby Club in Newbridge to provide long-term playing opportunities.
WRU TV: Hear from inside the Wales camp as Neil Jenkins discusses this weekend's clash with South Africa and how the squad are looking to put in a strong performance to round of the 2016 Under Armour Series