Soon all the talk will be over and South Africa and Ireland will take to the pitch at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday for a match to decide the unofficial title of ‘world champions’.

That’s how many people are seeing the match-up between the top two sides in the World Rugby Men’s Rankings, given South Africa are back-to-back world champions but have lost their last three matches against their closest rivals.

The Springboks’ position as the number one team is under threat this Saturday as Ireland – who held the position back in mid-October – can replace them with a big win in Pretoria in the first encounter of the two-test series. 

However, Andy Farrell’s side would have to do what no other Ireland team has done in South Africa before, and win by more than 15 points to topple the Springboks. Their only victory to date over the Springboks on South African soil was at Newlands in June 2016 when they won 26-20, despite CJ Stander’s red card.

A victory by a lesser margin will not be sufficient for Ireland to end the Springboks' near-nine-month reign.

The Springboks will extend their advantage at the top and possibly take their rating over the 95-point mark if they back up their win against Wales a fortnight ago with another good win. 

Whatever happens at Loftus Versfeld, South Africa and Ireland are guaranteed to still occupy the top two spots come Monday’s weekly update as the teams below them have too much ground to make up.

New Zealand, France and England will jockey for positions three to five this weekend, with the All Blacks potentially equalling their lowest-ever position of fifth if they lose at home to England for only the third time on home soil.

A much-changed France make the long trip to South America to face Argentina in what will be Fabien Galthié’s 50th test in charge of Les Bleus. Les Bleus’ experimental matchday 23 contains eight debutants – including last year’s triumphant World Rugby U20 Championship captain, Lenni Nouchi.

Scotland, meanwhile, go into their match with Canada in Ottawa, knowing that they safe in sixth if they win unless Argentina beat France by more than 15 points, in which case Los Pumas will replace them there.

Italy can only overtake Argentina and move up to seventh if they win and Los Pumas lose, provided one of the victory margins is more than 15 points.

All manner of permutations are possible further down the rankings with Australia and Wales, who meet in Sydney, desperate to avoid dropping out of the world’s top 10 for the first time since the rankings were introduced just over two decades ago.

Any loss for the Wallabies – if in tandem with Fiji avoiding defeat in Georgia – will see Australia drop down to 11th, a position that Wales are also attempting to avoid.

Georgia, on the other hand, have their eyes on 11th, as that would equal their best-ever position.

Wins for Romania against USA and Chile against Hong Kong China would lead to both teams climbing the rankings.