“The whole of Portugal is counting on you!”
What Raffaele Storti said to Portugal’s qualification hero, Samuel Marques, as he prepared to kick Os Lobos into Rugby World Cup 2023.
What has been a superb Autumn Nations Series comes to a close this weekend with Wales welcoming Australia to Cardiff and England taking on South Africa in Twickenham.
History and their position to one another in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings powered by Capgemini suggest both matches will be close affairs.
In eight of the last 10 meetings between Wales and Australia in Cardiff, the margin of victory has been in single figures. Last year’s result was the closest yet in that run with Wales winning by the narrowest of margins, 29-28.
Wales have won each of their last three test matches against Australia after losing 13 in a row against them previously, and if they can continue that run and bounce back from last week’s historic loss to Georgia, they will move above the Wallabies in the rankings.
Australia are currently the higher ranked of the two but a home win would see the teams swap places with Wales moving up to eighth and the Wallabies dropping to ninth.
Results for both teams have fallen below expectations in 2022 but if Australia were to sign off on a high, they would end the year up in sixth – three places better off than where they were at the start of the Autumn Nations Series.
Four new players have been included in the #Springboks starting line-up for the final Test of 2022 at Twickenham – team announcement: https://t.co/XPMw7vg5pW 💪#StrongerTogether #StrongerForever #ENGvRSA pic.twitter.com/3UtyYPdIv0— Springboks (@Springboks) November 22, 2022
The second match of the day is also between teams separated by just one place in the rankings as England look to build on the momentum of their second-half fightback against New Zealand with a victory over the Springboks.
England have won three of their last four tests against South Africa, with their only defeat coming in the final of Rugby World Cup 2019.
But their last two wins have both been by a single point (27-26 in November 2021 and 12-11 in November 2018) and the result could easily have gone the other way.
With a gap of 3.38 points between themselves in fifth and the Springboks in fourth, there are not enough rating points on offer for an England win for the positions to be reversed.
However, a win by more than 15 points would see the gap between England and the world champions close to just 0.27 of a point.
A South Africa win of any description would not be enough to lift them above the All Blacks, the margin has to be more than 15 points.
In such a scenario, the Springboks’ rating would be increased to 89.45 points, just under half a point more than the All Blacks’ current total of 88.98.