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 Chief Executive Roger Lewis, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates and WRU Chairman Gareth Davies earlier this week launched a new competition in conjunction with the WRU unveiling its archive room.
Welsh players and management joined Deputy Minister for Sport Ken Skates at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay earlier this week to reveal the Union's pioneering school-club hub initiative has been so successful the project will now almost double the scale of the original project.
The Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys look ahead to Judgement Day III which sees the Blues take on the Ospreys (2.30) and the Dragons tackle the Scarlets (4.45pm) at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Ystradgynlais and Ynysddu played out a titanic struggle at Taffs Well in the SSE SWALEC Bowl semi-final. At the end of the game neither team could be separated after a 15-15 stalemate but Ystradgynlais go through on try count.
Blues strike first in JD III battle - Newport Gwent Dragons lock Andrew Coombs, WRU referee Dylan Llyr Jones and Cardiff Blues hooker Matthew Rees decide dressing room allocations for Judgement Day III
Wales Under 18 captain Calum Haggett has received a conditional offer to read Biomedical Science at St Anne's College, Oxford. WRU chairman Gareth Davies went to meet Calum and Coleg y Cymoedd Principal Judith Evans to wish him luck in his exams and pass on some of his personal experience.
Dodgy tattoos, carthorses, Avatar and soft chins are revealed by Wales Sevens players Tom Williams and Sam Cross as they profile the Wales Sevens squad taking part in Hong Kong this weekend in the latest round of the HSBC Sevens World Series.