Second place in the World Rugby Rankings is Australia’s for the taking should they achieve back-to-back victories over New Zealand for the first time in test match rugby since 2001.
Last weekend’s Rugby Championship title-clinching win over the All Blacks in Sydney allowed the Wallabies to climb two places to third, behind their trans-Tasman rivals and Ireland.
And a first win in Auckland in 29 years would elevate them another place to second - even if the Irish beat Scotland in their RWC 2015 warm-up clash at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Riding high on the back of three consecutive victories, the Wallabies stand to gain at least 1.89 ratings points to move to 88.73 points - 2.10 behind the All Blacks - if they maintain their winning run on Saturday.
Will Aussies party like it's 1999?
The gap at the top could close to as little as 0.22 ratings points should the Wallabies win by over 15 points – something they have failed to do since they defeated the All Blacks 28-7 at the Telstra Stadium in August 1999, shortly before they went on to lift the Webb Ellis Cup for the second time in their history.
With victory New Zealand would earn 0.11 of a rating point, 0.17 if the winning margin is more than 15 points.
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To hold on to second placeIreland need to beat Scotland, as they did (40-10) when the sides met at Murrayfield in this year’s RBS 6 Nations Championship. They could drop as low as fifth if results go against them.
The best England can manage this weekend is a rise of one place to third. To achieve this Stuart Lancaster’s men need to win well against France at Twickenham in the first of their warm-up matches and hope Ireland suffer a surprise home defeat to the Scots.
A landslide England victory would come with a fifth of a rating point reward and boost their overall tally to 85.60 points, while it is impossible for France to catch Wales in sixth place even though they could stand to receive as many as 2.80 ratings points.
Scots seek return to top 10
A revenge victory for South Africa over Argentina in Buenos Aires would result in the Springboks moving up to third if combined with defeats for Ireland and England.
South Africa and Argentina have played each other 20 times since 1993, with the Springboks’ only defeat drawing that period coming in Durban last weekend when Los Pumas pulled off a stunning 37-25 victory.
Should Los Pumas complete the double over South Africa and win in emphatic fashion, and France slip to a fifth straight defeat to England at Twickenham, they would replace Les Bleus in seventh place in the rankings.
Scotland would move back into the world’s top 10 ranked nations if they win in Dublin for the first time since 2010. Currently ranked 12th, Scotland could leapfrog the three leading Pacific nations – Fiji, Tonga and Samoa – and climb as high as ninth if they beat the Irish by more than 15 points. Such a winning margin would see the Dark Blues handed three full ratings points whereas they’d pick up two, to move to 10th, if the scoreline was tighter.
African pride on the line
RWC 2015 participants Namibia are unable to improve their World Rugby Ranking regardless of the result of their Africa Cup Division 1A title decider against Zimbabwe in Windhoek.
However, they could fall as low as 23rd in the world – and below Zimbabwe in the rankings in the process – if the Sables were to win by more than 15 points. Such a scenario would see Zimbabwe’s first Africa Cup title since 2012 accompanied by a gain of 2.72 ratings points and a climb of five places to 22nd from their current ranking of 27th