Australia will surrender their second spot in the IRB World Rankings if they suffer a third successive defeat in The Rugby Championship, this time at the hands of South Africa at Patersons Stadium in Perth on Saturday.
The Wallabies went into June with a 3.65 rating point cushion over South Africa, but defeats by Scotland and world champions New Zealand (twice) mean that any margin of victory over their hosts will see the Springboks return to second spot.
South Africa were last ranked as the number two side in the world before their Rugby World Cup 2011 quarter final loss at the hands of Australia, but a win by more than 15 points could give them a three point cushion over the Wallabies.
This margin of defeat would also see Australia sit just under nine tenths above France in fifth, a scenario coach Robbie Deans will be keen to avoid given the Rugby World Cup 2015 Pool Allocation Draw coming up in December.
If Australia, or South Africa for that matter as the margin would be the same if they lose heavily in Perth, were to slip out of the top four come 3 December then they would not be in the top band of seeds and would face a trickier pool at England 2015.
Australia would still retain second place if the sides draw, although the margin between the two rivals would shrink to just over four tenths at the halfway stage of the inaugural Rugby Championship.
Only in the event of an Australia-South Africa draw will New Zealand’s cushion at the top increase. This is because even an emphatic win over Argentina in Wellington will have no impact on the All Blacks’ rating, a consequence of being the home side and ranked seven places and 13.09 points above the Pumas.
New Zealand’s cushion is currently 6.38 rating points, but even in victory this will shrink by around nine tenths with an emphatic victory for either South Africa. The All Blacks can’t lose top spot, even if they suffer a first ever loss to Argentina, but their cushion would shrink sufficiently.
It could reduce to as little as 2.51 rating points with a loss by more than 15 points, a result which would see Argentina climb above both Ireland and Wales into sixth place. A smaller winning margin would still be enough to lift the Pumas into seventh spot at Ireland’s expense.
Little to gain and plenty to lose
The Rugby Championship, though, is not the only tournament this weekend which could have an impact on the IRB World Rankings as the South American B Championship takes place in Venezuela and Norway meet Denmark on neutral soil in the Viking Tri-Nations.
Venezuela provides the next stop on the Americas’ road to Rugby World Cup 2015 with the hosts battling with Paraguay, Peru and Colombia for the right to face Caribbean champions Bermuda in a one-off match later this month.
Paraguay are the highest ranked of the four teams in 40th with Colombia the lowest at 74th. As a result, victory for Paraguay in their head-to-head on Sunday will only have a small impact on the rankings and not enough to alter either side’s position.
A victory for Venezuela, who were unbeaten in this competition last year, over Peru would not improve their position of 53rd, although a win by more than 15 points would see them close to within two hundredths of Switzerland above them. Peru though would fall one or three places in defeat.
Losses for the higher ranked teams would prove very costly, particularly for Paraguay who would drop a minimum of 10 places with Colombia rocketing up at least 11. Venezuela could fall as many as eight places with defeat at home with Peru becoming the higher ranked of the two sides.
The same is true for Viking Tri-Nations encounter at Rosslyn Park FC in England with a Denmark victory over a side ranked 32 places below them having only a minimal impact to their rating. However, a Norwegian win could see them jump as many as 11 places and Denmark fall up to 13.
The IRB World Rankings update every Monday at 12:00 UK time.