Upsets will be required in The Rugby Championship this weekend if there are to be any changes in the top 10 of the IRB World Rankings with victories for home sides New Zealand and Australia having no impact at all on rating points.
South Africa could still climb to second in the rankings even if they suffer an emphatic loss to world champions New Zealand under the Forsyth Barr Stadium roof, although this would require Australia to lose by more than 15 points to Argentina on the Gold Coast.
A first South Africa win against the All Blacks on New Zealand soil since 2009 will not necessarily be enough to lift the Springboks into third unless they either win by more than 15 points or Australia slip to a first defeat against Los Pumas since 1997.
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If New Zealand’s 13 Test unbeaten run is ended by the Springboks then the All Blacks’ cushion at the top of the IRB World Rankings would be drastically cut from its current 5.81 points to just 2.23 points if South Africa win by more than 15 points.
Nathan Sharpe, the third player to captain the Wallabies in as many matches, is the only player in the Australian squad to have faced Argentina before with the sides having last met in the opening match of Rugby World Cup 2003.
He will be hoping to avoid defeat in his hometown, an outcome which would lift Argentina above Ireland into seventh. They could also climb above Wales to sixth if they were to triumph at Skilled Park by more than 15 points.
The fourth round of The Rugby Championship may not result in changes to the IRB World Rankings, but the same cannot be said for the South American B Championship in Venezuela, the latest stop on the road to Rugby World Cup 2015.
Paraguay continued to live up to their billing as favourites by powering past Peru 69-3 at the Estadio Arístides Pineda in Valencia on Wednesday, leaving it to Colombia to cause the first upset by beating hosts Venezuela 26-3.
Colombia went into the match at the University of Carabobo ranked 21 places below their opponents, but the margin of victory means that gap has provisionally shrunk to only a couple of places going into the tournament’s final day on Saturday.
The Toucans will be looking to build on this victory when they tackle Peru, while Venezuela could limit the damage by this defeat if they can finish on a high by beating Paraguay, the highest ranked of the four teams in 40th.
The winner of the South American B Championship 2012 will face the Caribbean champions Bermuda in a one-off play-off on 29 September. The side emerging victorious will then meet Brazil, the bottom side in this year’s South American Championship on October 27.
The IRB World Rankings update every Monday at 12:00 UK time.