Steve Hansen bemused as All Blacks win Bledisloe Cup but lose top ranking
Steve Hansen wasn't about to let World Rugby's bizarre rankings system rain on his Bledisloe Cup parade in Auckland.
The All Blacks coach woke up on Sunday to the confusing news that just hours after putting together one of the most emphatic victories in their history over arch-rivals the Wallabies on Eden Park they had lost their world No 1 ranking for the first time in nearly a decade.
Wales' 13-6 victory over England at Cardiff, just six days after being thrashed by Eddie Jones' men 33-19 at Twickenham, saw Warren Gatland's side leapfrog the All Blacks to go top of the rankings for the first time since they were first instituted in 2003.
The All Blacks scored five tries without reply to shut out the Wallabies 36-0 in wet conditions on Eden Park to retain the prized Bledisloe Cup for a 17th consecutive year and extend their unbeaten streak at their Auckland stronghold to 43 matches over 25 years.
It is fair to say Hansen was more bemused than amused by the rankings anomaly, though he wasn't about to lose any sleep over what he sees as a definite quirk in the system.
The All Blacks have held the top spot since November of 2009 – all of that run under Hansen's tutelage as head coach.
"How do you work that out?" asked Hansen at his traditional Sunday post-test media appearance. "We won the [Bledisloe] Cup last night and lost the rankings. Ask yourself how that works.
"I've never understood their system. You win a game and you lose the top ranking?
"When you sit back, it's something that's going to happen anyway – the top-ranked sides are playing each other in the northern hemisphere, and you get more points if you beat top sides.
"We just need to get ourselves in the right frame of mind to go to the World Cup and win that. I'm not too worried about rankings."
Hansen couldn't resist lobbing a little extra pressure the way of his old Wales side either who are fresh off a Grand Slam triumph and head to the World Cup as one of the teams expected to contend for the title.
"They've been great, no problem. Now they've got the expectation," he added. "They're the No 1 team in the world taking it into the World Cup. It couldn't be better timing."
New Zealand coach Gatland admitted his side "won't be shouting from the rooftops" their new status but said he expects "lots of Kiwi journalists will be saying it's a joke".
The former All Blacks hooker who takes over as head coach at the Chiefs after the World Cup, said Wales were proud of the accolade, but shrugged off its significance. "It's just a number, isn't it," he said.
England coach Eddie Jones had plenty to say in the wake of the defeat in the World Cup warmup game in Cardiff. Not only did he claim the All Blacks have been holding back ahead of the global tournament, but he also anointed Wales as tournament favourites on the back of their outstanding run of results.
"When you go to No 1, you're favourites," Jones said at the post-match press conference. The World Cup is still a month away, but it would seem the mind games have begun already.