Siya Kolisi chats to some of his Springboks teammates. Photo by AFP
In one of the most highly anticipated World Cup pool games in history, the two top teams in world rugby will go head to head in what will be a blockbuster battle between the Springboks and Ireland on Saturday.
The number one ranking is on the line in the Pool B encounter between Ireland and South Africa in Saint-Denis on Saturday.
South Africa will end Ireland’s 14-month reign at the top if they win with Andy Farrell’s men dropping to third below a France side victorious over Namibia.
This is despite the fact that Rugby World Cup 2023 hosts France cannot improve their rating by beating Namibia in their Pool A encounter in Marseille as a result of the 28.98 rating points between the sides.
However, Ireland will hold on to the number one ranking if they draw with South Africa – albeit only by 0.09 rating points.
A win would see Ireland’s cushion over South Africa grow to as much as 6.05 rating points if the margin is by more than 15 points.
If beaten, South Africa will also slip below a victorious France side into third.
Defeat for France will see them drop below New Zealand, who do not play this weekend, into fourth place. However, Les Bleus can fall no further than fourth.
Two other teams – England and Scotland – are also unable to improve their ratings in victory over Chile and Tonga respectively. England’s rating is 22.75 points better than Chile’s, while Scotland’s rating is 13.14 points higher than Tonga’s.
Scotland and England, therefore, will remain fifth and sixth with victories.
However, England could move above Scotland if they win and Scotland lose, the latter potentially falling by as many as five places to 10th depending on the margin and other results.
A defeat could see England drop to a new low of ninth, depending on other results.
A draw between Wales and Australia will see their Pool C rivals Fiji climb one place to equal their best position of seventh at the expense of the Welsh.
Fiji, who do not play this weekend, could actually jump as high as fifth if England and Scotland lose and their Pool C rivals Wales and Australia draw.
Australia will fall to a new low of 10th if they lose their Pool C meeting with Wales and Argentina beat Samoa.
However, victory for the Wallabies could see them jump as high as fifth in the event that England and Scotland both suffer shock defeats.