All Blacks to retain top spot in rankings

(IRB.COM) Friday 4 October 2013
 
 All Blacks to retain top spot in rankings
New Zealand haven't conceded four tries against South Africa in nine years, something the Springboks must do to have a chance of winning the title

New Zealand will end The Rugby Championship as the number one side in the IRB World Rankings, regardless of the outcome of their title decider with South Africa at Ellis Park on Saturday, the question will be by how much.

If the All Blacks win in the stadium where they suffered Rugby World Cup 1995 final heartbreak then their cushion over South Africa could grow to as much as 6.16 rating points. But a loss by more than 15 points and that margin would shrink to just 0.16 rating points.

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South Africa, who must score four tries in victory and deny New Zealand a bonus point to lift The Rugby Championship trophy in front of their supporters, cannot slip from second spot even with an emphatic loss against the world champions.

Australia will remain fourth if they overcame Argentina in the bottom of the table clash in Rosario, a win by more than 15 points will still leave them 1.51 rating points behind England, the leading northern hemisphere nation in the rankings.

However, if Los Pumas can record their first victory in The Rugby Championship then Australia could slump two places to sixth to occupy their lowest ever position since the rankings were introduced in October 2003.

For that to happen, Argentina would have to win by more than 15 points at the Estadio Gigante de Arroyito on Saturday, but a simple victory for Los Pumas would lift them above Scotland into ninth place.

The final round of The Rugby Championship 2013 is not the only action this weekend that could have an impact on the IRB World Rankings with two matches in Europe have the potential to cause plenty of movement further down.

Reaching new heights


The first will see the dream of playing at Rugby World Cup 2015 come to an end for whoever loses the European round two play-off between hosts Luxembourg and Israel at the Stade Josy Barthel.

The visitors will be favourites to progress to the next round against the Netherlands on 26 October as they sit 44 places above Luxembourg in the rankings, but with the Webb Ellis Cup in attendance then an upset could happen.

Israel would have to win by more than 15 points to climb a place to a new high ranking of 47th, but a defeat could see them drop at least seven places and could see Luxembourg rocket 11 places to 81st, although this would require them to win by more 15 points.

The other European Nations Cup match is the Division 2C encounter between Bulgaria and Hungary in Sofia. A year ago this fixture was the first match in the European qualification process for RWC 2015 and one Hungary won 28-23.

Bulgaria are now the higher ranked of the two sides in 75th, five places above Hungary, but if the visitors can emerge victorious then they will assume that mantle. Hungary will climb a minimum of seven places with victory with Bulgaria falling either six or 11 places depending on the margin.

The reward for Bulgaria if they win in front of their own fans will be a climb of two or three places, lifting them to their highest ever position in the rankings. Hungary will fall one, swapping places with Nigeria, in defeat.

The IRB World Rankings update every Monday at 12:00 UK time.