South Africa’s spot in the world rankings will be under threat when they host Australia and New Zealand in the next fortnight. JON CARDINELLI reports.
Can the Springboks still win the Rugby Championship? It remains a possibility, although not a probability.
The Boks will need to beat the Wallabies with a bonus point at Newlands this Saturday. They will also need the Pumas to perform a small miracle in Buenos Aires and limit the All Blacks to three tries or less.
Forget the scenario of the Pumas doing the Boks the ultimate favour in beating the All Blacks. Argentina have never won a Rugby Championship match, and are not going to break that trend against a New Zealand side that hasn’t lost to any team since December 2012.
While the title is all but out of reach, there is still plenty to play for. The Boks have now lost two in a row, and will want to get back to winning ways. They will also be mindful of the fact that the defeat in Perth was significant, not only in terms of the Rugby Championship race, but in the context of the IRB world rankings.
South Africa are currently in second place on the Rugby Championship log, but only by virtue of a superior points difference. Both the Boks and the Wallabies are on 10 log points, and so the winner of the next Test at Newlands will occupy that second spot moving into the final round of the tournament.
The Boks need to beat the Wallabies to give themselves a chance of finishing the competition in second place. They have a tougher draw than the Australians, and will play their final match against the All Blacks in Johannesburg. After the clash in Cape Town, the Wallabies will travel to Argentina to play the Pumas, and it's possible that they could take five log points from that match.
The outcome of the game at Newlands, as well as the subsequent clash at Ellis Park, could have an impact on the world rankings. At present, the Boks are in second place with 88.24 ratings points. The Wallabies are not far behind in third with 88.10. Should the Boks lose both of their home Tests, and should the Wallabies win their next two games, the Aussies will ascend to second spot.
At the start of the season, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer said that the goal was to beat the All Blacks and win the Rugby Championship. The Boks’ title hopes may be in tatters, but there will be another opportunity to beat New Zealand when rugby’s two superpowers meet on 4 October.
The Boks must ensure that they go into that game with some momentum. The next game against the Wallabies is therefore all-important. They need a win after the disappointing run Down Under. They also need a win to maintain their second-place standing on the Rugby Championship log, as well as their No 2 ranking in world rugby.
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