World Rugby ranking switch from Springboks to All Blacks premature

World Rugby ranking switch from Springboks to All Blacks premature
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If only the World Rugby ranking system had been on hold for one more week before a switch in number one status saw the All Blacks leapfrog the World Champion Springboks, it would have been perfect timing.

The timing was somewhat inopportune yet, it did not happen by chance. Results are the barometer of movements on the calculated International team rankings. Poor form is reflected in movements up or down.

Losses are the measure of how these movements occur. Back-to-back losses have counted, as much as in how convincing New Zealand’s were. The difference in performances against their respective oppositions meant the World Champs were overtaken due to multiple defeats.

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This positional switch came as much more of a shock than the prior week’s result. The 30-17 loss was particularly galling for Springbok fans as only a few hours later, the World Rugby ranking was subsequently lost to New Zealand. Though, prematurely [many would say] as the sides are due to meet on Saturday, September 25.

That would have been the better scenario for a place change to occur.

World Rugby ranking switch from Springboks to All Blacks premature

While fantasy matches like the 100th anniversary of clashes between New Zealand and South Africa should be celebrated on their own, how unique might it have been if that match result helped purely in the switch in World Rugby ranking places?  That would have been quite a monumental outcome.

And it may well still create another; if the Springbacks make a huge resurgence in form to beat the All Blacks. Mind you, that would only happen with a margin of more than seven points (at least), so it is an indicator of how closely those two sides are positioned. And it also provides evidence on how a 23 point win by NZ, and a 13-point loss to a lower-ranked team, allowed the switch in places.

Note: the exact ranking is NZ 91.15; SA 90.95 – a difference of 0.2 points.

An explanation of the weightings and values for wins and losses that calculate is available on the World Rugby website. In measures against which teams play, where they are located on the table, and the margin of win/loss. So while New Zealand (NZ) won by more points against Argentina, the closer position of Australia relative to number one ranked South Africa (SA) meant a much larger drop in points was felt by the Springboks. It is called a ‘points exchange system’.

Was it accurate to how these two International sides are matched? No, and that is why the ultimate ‘test’ this Saturday is a better arbiter of positions. Two bad games should not have been the sole measure for the World Champions giving up their place; it was Premature.

Often, changes happen at times when all nations are playing [at a Rugby World Cup] so while The Rugby Championship only involves four sides, it has some inaccuracy. Yet having three of them within the top seven positions on the World Rugby ranking table, gave a ‘somewhat’ fair indication of the importance of this series. The quality of games has been high yet South Africa, and to a greater degree Argentina, have been outplayed but that should be seen only after all round-robin games are completed. Only then, will fans know for sure who is the best.

That judgment gets a lot clearer – especially after matches between South Africa and New Zealand.

Prior to the outcomes between the Wallabies and Springboks, the SA v NZL games were the most anticipated in reality. Few imagined that two poor results beforehand would alter the rugby landscape to this degree. Yet now, the important 100th-anniversary clash is going to count for so much more than simply heritage and bragging rights. South Africa can recover their place or, relinquish more to their greatest ever rivals.

2021 Rugby Championship title somewhat secondary to No 1 place

The eyes of the rugby world will be all cast towards Townsville this Saturday afternoon. It is an inglorious venue for an exceptional match-up yet, each team must be prepared to lay all their cards on the table. One match could decide so much more than just The Rugby Championship.

Who is not playing is a factor. No Pieter-Steph du Toit. No Cheslin Kolbe for the Springboks. For the All Blacks, no Sam Whitelock or Sam Cane. And, no Aaron Smith. So there are important components missing. It means the players and management/selection must balance rest and rotation, alongside form and the desire to have their best XV on the park.

Expect fireworks this Saturday (and I don’t mean the pre-Test build-up extravaganza). Expect tension, pressure, and a World Cup-like atmosphere. Playing for the World Rugby ranking position is critical yet, it must be put to the back of the mind. Face the opposition on the day – leave the calculations to one side. Win this match first and foremost, and then naturally the placing will be the outcome. The Championship is secondary to all else.

All Blacks vs Springboks: Two centenaries to celebrate

Who will win is not for Last Word on Rugby to assume. Pundits are paid very much more and are motivated for very different reasons. Some in both home countries like nothing more than stirring the pot, while the emotion of 100 years of history plays a large part. The All Blacks hold the superiority in ‘overall success’ yet, are Not World Champions. However, they did reach their set goal for 2021 of reclaiming the number one World Rugby ranking. Maybe a day earlier than a few might prefer.

On the other hand, can the Springboks overcome this staunch challenge? Bounce back from two horrible displays? Keep their discipline in check, and play to their potential? All valid questions for Siya Kolisi to solve before he meets Ardie Savea and his powerful side, in Queensland’s tropical north.

At the conclusion of that match though, a confirmed switch in rankings – whether affirming New Zealand or, restoring South Africa’s place – is the correct outcome.

Saturday, September 25: New Zealand v South Africa | Australia v Argentina


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