With all of the world’s top 10 teams in action this weekend, there could be some significant changes when the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini are officially updated at 12 noon on Monday.
To be certain of staying at number one, South Africa need to repeat their November win over Wales in Cardiff when the teams meet at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
A failure to do so will leave the Springboks vulnerable to results elsewhere, especially from Eden Park in Auckland, the venue for the eagerly-awaited encounter between New Zealand and Ireland, the sides ranked third and fourth.
🏉 Junior Boks mix things up for #U20SummerSeries clash with Ireland— Junior Springboks (@JuniorBoks) June 28, 2022
👍 Backline unchanged, a couple of new players upfront
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If South Africa draw with Wales, New Zealand or Ireland must win by more than 15 points to assume the number one ranking.
Defeat for the Springboks means that a smaller margin of victory will be sufficient for New Zealand or Ireland to supplant them at the top.
Wales are guaranteed to climb a place to eighth if they upset the odds and win, regardless of the outcome of the first test between Argentina and Scotland – the two teams immediately above them in the rankings.
Ireland chase historic win
Just as Wales have never beaten the Springboks in South Africa before, Ireland are strangers to success against the All Blacks in New Zealand.
Two of their three wins in the 117-year history of the fixture have occurred in Dublin, most recently in November, when Ireland won 29-20, with the other coming on neutral territory in Chicago, USA.
Should they make history and do what no other Ireland side has done before, it would mean a third straight defeat for New Zealand for the first time since August 1998, following losses to Ireland and France at the back end of the November tour to Europe.
Being ranked in their lowest-ever position of fourth could be another unwanted statistic arising from defeat for the All Blacks. For that to happen, France would also need to kick off their two-test tour of Japan with a win.
France can top the rankings for the first time since they were introduced in 2003 if they win, South Africa lose to Wales and it is a draw at Eden Park between New Zealand and Ireland.
Meanwhile, Australia will leapfrog England with victory in the opening test in Perth.
England are currently on a record eight-game winning streak against the Wallabies, dating back to October 2015, and have an outside chance of improving on their current position of fifth, depending on the margin of victory and the outcome of the Japan v France game.
Victory for Japan would see them climb above a beaten Wales side and into ninth position. Eighth is possible for the last Rugby World Cup hosts but it would take multiple factors to work in their favour for that to happen.
Scotland travel to Argentina for their first-ever three-test tour ranked in seventh, one place ahead of Los Pumas. But a home win in Michael Cheika’s first game in charge of the team would result in the side swapping places.
A Scotland win will see them climb above Australia and into sixth if the Wallabies lose at home to England.
Scotland could fall as low as 10th if they are beaten and other results don’t fall their way.
43 players from @Fijian_Drua and @MoanaPasifika_ are set to play in the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup 2022 next month— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) June 8, 2022
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Suva success would lift Tonga
This weekend sees the start of the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup 2022, with the Fijian capital of Suva preparing to host the Flying Fijians for the first time since Samoa were beaten 10-3 there in the same competition in August 2019.
Five-time tournament winners Fiji cannot improve their ranking in victory due to the 8.9 rating points differential between the teams before home advantage is taken into consideration.
Tonga, however, would definitely replace Spain in 15th place if they back up their win on their last visit to Suva in 2018.
Having been confirmed as Rugby World Cup 2023 qualifiers earlier in the week, the feel-good factor in Romanian rugby could be further boosted by a home win over Italy.
Romania begin the weekend ranked one place lower than Tonga in 17th but with 1.3 rating points on offer for victory against the 14th-place Azzurri, the Oaks could climb by as many as two places.
Victory for Italy in Bucharest on Friday would result in them overtaking Samoa as Manu Samoa’s match against Australia A in the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup does not count towards the rankings.
Double-digit rise possible for Uganda
All four of this weekend’s Rugby Africa Cup quarter-final ties have rating points riding on them as well as remaining in the hunt for Rugby World Cup 2023 qualification.
It is not possible for Namibia, Zimbabwe and Senegal to improve their rankings position in victory, but big gains are on the line for their lower-ranked opponents – Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Algeria – if they upset the odds and make it through to the semi-finals.
In the other quarter-final between Uganda and Kenya, some movement is guaranteed.
Uganda have only won one of the last 10 meetings with their East African rivals but if they can buck the trend, the Rugby Cranes could jump by as many as 10 places to 42nd depending on other results and the margins of victory.
Kenya will drop one or two places if beaten by Uganda with Ukraine and Czechia as the beneficiaries. A fall of three places is possible depending on their result and that of Zimbabwe v Ivory Coast
Meanwhile, the Simbas will climb two or three places in victory, depending on the margin and what happens in the Zimbabwe v Ivory Coast match.
The only other match to count towards the rankings on this busy opening weekend of the July internationals is the game in Halifax between Canada and Belgium.
For Canada, a repeat of their 24-0 win against the Black Devils in Brussels back in November would only come with a fractional reward of two-tenths of a point – not enough for them to climb any higher than their present position of 21st.
Should Belgium overturn that defeat and win by more than 15 points, they will climb above Russia into 25th, while Canada will drop three places to 24th – or two if Namibia fail to beat Burkina Faso.