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.
The Wales U18 squad spent an emotional day in the drug-riddled townnship of Hout Bay. Hout Bay Warriors President Fred Johannes said the visit was 'the talk of the town' and will dream about the day everyday for the rest of his life.
RGC 1404's new head coach Mark Jones is hoping to build 'something special' in north Wales and is already looking forward to the development region participating in the Principality Premiership for the very first time.
A joint venture between the WRU and Admiral saw hundreds of children enjoy the Admiral Festival of Rugby held at the National Centre of Excellence at the weekend where Welsh internationals Sam Warburton, Scott Williams and Rob Evans were in attendance.
Wll Jones leads Wales U18s into battle this afternoon against Italy where the Welsh side will be seeking to bounce back from their narrow defeat to SA Schools in their opening clash of the U19 International Series
All four regions attended a successful training camp staged last weekend at the WRU National Centre of Excellence. It was a chance for new Wales Women's head coach Rowland Phillips to deliver his key messages to players and coaches as he prepares for the new season.
Wales U18 Team Manager Gethin Watts believes the next couple of weeks will be 'extremely beneficial' to the future of Welsh rugby as his side prepare to take part in the Under 19 International Series being staged in South Africa.
The WRU is searching for 12 new rugby development apprentices following a successful first year of its WRU Coach Core programme. Craig Duncan and Jess Hancock have flourished in the first year of the programme which has given them a real direction in their lives.
The WRU signed TV comedian Rhod Gilbert up to a 'Coaching Children Level 1' course before letting him loose on an U8s side at Whitland Junior Borderers - we went behind the scenes to film the making of 'Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience' see the results here.
Llandovery are aiming to make it three titles in a row in this year's Foster's National 7s being held at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday 28 August. Drovers assistant coach Simon Davies and Lee Rees assess their sides chances
A pioneering strength and conditioning programme has been delivered to more than 8000 boys and girls at hub schools throughout Wales this season, helping to develop stronger, more flexible athletes for rugby and other sports.
The Singha Premiership Rugby 7s Series returns to the BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on July 22nd when all four Welsh regions go head to head. Scarlets skills coach Dai Flanagan and Blues Elite Performance Pathway Manager Richard Hodges along with current Welsh squad members were at the launch of this season's event