Another blockbuster weekend of international rugby awaits that could have a huge impact on the World Rugby Rankings powered by Capgemini.
With rating points riding on the outcome of a host of Autumn Nations Series, Rugby Europe Championship and women’s international matches the rankings could look very different by the time they are updated on Monday.
Following three successive victories, New Zealand currently sit top of the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini, but that could change were the All Blacks to suffer a third defeat in five matches against Ireland.
The teams last met in the Rugby World Cup 2019 quarter-finals, when New Zealand won 46-14, and a repeat in Dublin on Saturday would keep the All Blacks in top spot.
However, were Ireland to win, as they did in Chicago in 2016 and at the Aviva Stadium two years later, the result would not only lift the hosts as high as third, but also open the door to South Africa to overtake the All Blacks.
Boks target a return to the top
To regain the number one spot, the Springboks must beat Scotland at Murrayfield and hope that Ireland triumph at the Aviva Stadium.
Were New Zealand to beat Ireland by 15 points or less, then South Africa could still reclaim top spot if they beat Scotland by more than 15 points in Murrayfield.
The world champions have lost just one of their previous 14 meetings with Scotland, a run that stretches back 19 years.
A third Scottish victory in the fixture since the turn of the century, though, would lift the hosts to an all-time high of fourth, as long as England and Ireland both lose.
England, Australia and Wales keen to prevent slide
England take on Australia at Twickenham on Saturday and the team that loses could slide down the rankings come Monday.
If the fourth-placed hosts suffer a heavy defeat to the Wallabies, it is possible they could slip as low as seventh providing that the teams below them all win.
Australia, meanwhile, could find themselves in sixth on Monday were they to lose by more than 15 points at Twickenham and Scotland beat the Springboks.
The Wallabies’ recent record against England is not good, having not recorded a win in the fixture since a 33-13 victory at Twickenham during RWC 2015.
Elsewhere, France cannot improve their rating against Georgia but can climb the rankings if they win and Scotland, England and Ireland all lose, the latter by more than 15 points.
Victory for Georgia would only enable them to improve on 12th if Japan lose, and one of the results is by a margin of more than 15 points.
Wales, meanwhile, could drop out of the top 10 for the first time since the rankings began in 2003 if they lose to Fiji and Japan beat Portugal.
Fiji have never won in Cardiff in eight attempts, although they have run Wales close on several occasions and drew 16-16 11 years ago.
Black Ferns attempt to prevent historic slide
Following back-to-back record defeats to England, the Black Ferns arrived in France knowing a third successive loss could drop them to their lowest ever position in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini.
New Zealand, who were beaten 56-15 at Franklin’s Gardens last Sunday, have lost both of their previous two meetings with France.
Should Les Bleus begin their two-test series with another win in Pau, it could drop their visitors out of the top two for the first time since the rankings were introduced in February 2016.
That would happen if New Zealand lose by 15 points or more at Stade du Hameau and Canada beat England at Twickenham Stoop, or France triumph by less but the World Rugby Pacific Four Series champions win by more than two converted tries.
France’s two victories against the Black Ferns have been by three and nine points respectively. Should New Zealand win well in Pau, and England lose by a similarly big margin, then the Black Ferns could cut the deficit to top spot from 3.96 to just 0.15 points.
Elsewhere, Ireland can climb above the USA and into sixth should they beat their visitors by more than two converted tries at the Royal Dublin Society on Friday. Any victory would be good enough to take the hosts above Italy and into seventh.
Neither Scotland nor Wales, meanwhile, can improve their position with wins on the weekend but their opponents – Japan and South Africa respectively – can.
However, South Africa need a big win, and for Japan to lose comfortably, to overhaul the Sakura 15s, while the Asian nation must beat Scotland by more than two converted scores and hope Wales lose by a similar margin in Cardiff to go above Ioan Cunningham’s side. The Scots will fall below Spain into 10th place with a defeat to Japan.