LONDON, 29 Oct - When Australia face New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham on Saturday, they will have the chance to lift not only the famous Webb Ellis Cup, but also to lift themselves to No 1 in the World Rugby rankings for the first time in history.

Their opponents, New Zealand, have been the top-ranked side in the world since 16 November 2009, and have held top spot for 86 per cent of the time since the rankings were first introduced in October 2003.

Australia, on the other hand, have never occupied the No 1 spot, but if they were to win on Saturday, would become only the fourth side ever to hold that ranking following England, New Zealand and South Africa.

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The two RWC 2015 finalists are currently separated in the rankings by 1.92 points. However, if Australia win by 15 points or less, they will gain almost a three-point advantage over New Zealand. 

If the Wallabies win by more than 15 points, they will move over five rating points clear of the All Blacks.

But, if New Zealand win by more than 15 points, as they did in their last meeting with Australia in a RWC warm-up game in Auckland which resulted in a 41-13 victory for the All Blacks, then their cushion would increase to 6.77 points.

Both teams, regardless of the outcome of either their game or the bronze final on Friday, can rest assured that they will not slip out of the top two.

Bronze Final

In the battle for third and fourth place at RWC 2015, Argentina will face South Africa at 20:00 on Friday night in the bronze final.

Los Pumas will have the opportunity to equal their best ranking of third if they beat the Springboks, leapfrogging their opponents, but they will fall below the highest-ranked European team, Wales, into fifth with any margin of defeat.

South Africa, who currently sit in third place, would only fall below both Argentina and Wales if they lose by more than 15 points.

RNS lg/sw