Ireland can take advantage of France not being in action this weekend and replace Les Bleus at the top of the World Rugby Men's Rankings powered by Capgemini.
France moved to number one for the first time in history last week following their victory over Japan and defeats for South Africa, the previous occupants, and the All Blacks.
But their stay at the top of the rankings could be short-lived as a second consecutive win for Ireland against the All Blacks would earn them enough points to overtake Les Bleus.
No team other than Ireland can catch France at the top of the rankings this weekend.
A win of any sort would also see Ireland break the 90-rating point mark for the first time since the rankings began in October 2003, taking them past France’s total of 89.41.
Ireland have sat atop the rankings once before, for two weeks in September 2019, but to do it again on the back of a series win in New Zealand would make this time all the more special.
Were New Zealand lucky not to get a second red card against Ireland? 🤔— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) July 13, 2022
Should Ireland have had a penalty try? 🤔
And what about Ardie Savea staying off the pitch?! 🤔
Here's @Nigelrefowens to sort it all out! 🙌
It's #WhistleWatch presented by @emirates pic.twitter.com/dLN51e0cBC
Victory for New Zealand will see them swap places with Ireland and ensure their stay at fourth – their lowest ever ranking – only lasts a week.
However, the All Blacks could drop to a new low of fifth if they lose by more than 15 points, depending on the results in South Africa and Australia.
A win for South Africa over Wales would be fitting on the occasion of Springbok legend Eben Etzebeth’s 100th cap, but it wouldn’t result in any additional rating points being added to their total due to the 7.33 rating points between the sides before home weighting is factored in. This means they cannot improve on third place.
Should Wales back up their nail-biting 13-12 win in Bloemfontein last week with victory in Cape Town, a climb of two places to three places is possible depending on the scoreline and the outcome of the matches between Australia and England and Argentina and Scotland.
If the Springboks are beaten heavily and end up losing the series 2-1, they could drop two places for the second week in a row, and drop down to fifth, if they lose by more than 15 points against Wales, and results in Australia and New Zealand also go against them.
Tomorrow, all of @WorldRugby’s international referees will be wearing black arm bands to celebrate the life of Andrew Cole. A great referee, a fantastic referee coach but most importantly, a wonderful man.— Wayne Barnes (@WayneBarnesRef) July 15, 2022
He was one of the best.
We will miss you Coley. pic.twitter.com/EA5NFePd0d
Sell-out in Sydney
Test rugby returns to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the first time since 1986 and the majority of the sell-out crowd in the world-famous arena will be hoping to see the Wallabies bounce back from last week’s defeat in Brisbane to claim a 2-1 series win over England.
Australia must win by more than 15 points to climb back above England into fifth, while third is possible for a triumphant England.
The Wallabies could fall two places to a new low of eighth if they lose and Wales and Scotland both win on the road.
A record-equalling high of fifth is on the cards for Scotland if they round off their historic tour of Argentina with a second win. But to do so, they must win by more than 15 points and hope Australia do them a favour against England, but only by a narrow margin.
Meanwhile, Argentina cannot improve on ninth place even if they beat Scotland by more than 15 points. With Japan not playing this weekend, Los Pumas will remain ninth regardless of the outcome.
On Saturday, the World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup 2022 (PNC) draws to a conclusion with table-topping Samoa taking on hosts Fiji in Lautoka.
A win for Samoa would not only see them claim their first PNC title since 2014 but would also result in a two-place rise in the rankings to 11th, thus becoming the higher ranked of the two teams in the process.
Big gains possible for Chile
Another issue to be decided this weekend is the Americas 2 qualifier for Rugby World Cup 2023.
USA go into the match in Glendale, Colorado – another sell-out – with a one-point advantage from the first leg.
The Eagles are currently ranked in 17th – seven places above Los Condores – but the gap could be down to one place and less than two points come the final whistle.
A heavy defeat for Gary Gold’s side combined with results going against them elsewhere means they could drop as far down as 20th, their previous lowest ranking, with Chile moving up three places to a new all-time high of 21st.
Elsewhere, Georgia cannot improve their rating with victory over Portugal due to the 9.43 rating points between the sides before home weighting is factored in.
But the Lelos will fall one or two places in defeat, depending on the outcome of Fiji v Samoa.
Portugal could climb as high as 16th if they win by more than 15 points and Romania lost to Uruguay.
Uruguay must beat Romania by more than 15 points to climb back above the Oaks with 17th place possible depending on the outcome of the USA v Chile and Georgia v Portugal matches. This margin of defeat could cause Romania to fall at least three places