irb.com and James Mortimer 28.Sep.2013Getty Images
For that to happen, Ewen McKenzie’s side must win by more than 15 points in Cape Town on Saturday as anything less would only see the Wallabies climb one place above England to restore the southern hemisphere top three.
South Africa can fall no lower than third even with an emphatic defeat by a side they beat 38-12 only three weeks ago in Brisbane, although the defeat would leave New Zealand within touching distance of a successful defence of The Rugby Championship title.
New Zealand cannot improve their own rating even were they to repeat their 54-14 victory on their last visit to La Plata, a consequence of the 15.66 rating points and nine places separating the All Blacks from their hosts Argentina in the rankings.
However, the All Blacks could still see their cushion at the top of the rankings – a position they have now occupied for the last 46 months – grow by more than two points to 5.73 if South Africa suffer a heavy loss at home to the Wallabies.
On the flip side, if Argentina were to record a major upset and win in La Plata then New Zealand’s advantage over South Africa could shrink to as little as 0.23 points and leave not only the title but also the number one spot on the line ahead of their meeting in Johannesburg next weekend.
A first Argentina win in The Rugby Championship would lift them one place to ninth – at the expense of Scotland – and potentially to within a couple of tenths of Ireland above depending on the margin of victory.
The weekend also sees the first European Nations Cup 2014 Division 2D match of the season with Finland hosting the higher ranked Greece in Turku on Saturday. Greece will rise two places to 96th with victory, while Finland have a bigger incentive as victory will lift them off the foot of the rankings – albeit only by one place – and see their visitors replace them.