All eyes will be on Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday as the two hemispheres collide in the Rugby World Cup 2021 final.

When England and New Zealand last met in the game’s showpiece match in Belfast in 2017, the Blacks Ferns were number one in the World Rugby Women’s Rankings powered by Capgemini and England were right behind them.

On that occasion, New Zealand were 1.07 points ahead of England and justified their higher ranking when it mattered most with a thrilling 41-32 win.

This time around, the roles are reversed as England go into the final on top of the rankings, with 96.99 points while New Zealand are 6.50 points further back on 90.49.

Whether that more significant deficit is reflected in this Saturday’s scoreline, only time will tell but if England do come out on top and win their third world crown, they will post the highest rating in the history of the rankings.

Never before has a team, men’s or women’s, broken through the 98-point rating barrier but that achievement is now within their grasp.

For New Zealand, all that matters is winning the competition but, as an added bonus, a victory by more than 15 points will also see them usurp the Red Roses as the world’s number one ranked team.

Canada look to break new ground

The final immediately follows the third-place play-off between France and Canada.

Canada will climb to second if they win and New Zealand lose the encounter with England. 

Canada have not been ranked as high as second since November 2016 and if they win by more than 15 points, Canada will break the 90-rating point mark for the first time. Only England and New Zealand have achieved this rating.

A win for France would see them replace Canada as the third-highest-ranked team.

Elsewhere, the Rugby Africa Cup continues with games between Burkina Faso and Cameroon and the Ivory Coast counting towards the rankings.