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All Blacks face prospect of further World Rugby rankings drop

By Kim Ekin
Jordie Barrett. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

The All Blacks could fall even further down World Rugby’s pecking order with a moderately heavy loss to the Springboks this weekend.

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Ian Foster’s side will fall to a new low of fifth – dropping below England – if they lose by more than 15 points in South Africa in Mbombela.

However, if they win on South African soil, they will supplant their hosts in third. The Boks – on the other hand – cannot improve on third place even with a victory by more than 15 points over NZ.

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Jacques Nienaber’s side’s rating will show the same as France at 89.41 but Les Bleus rating is higher when rounding up to three decimal places will see them hold on to the second spot.

In the other Rugby Championship match between the Wallabies and Los Pumas, Argentina will be the higher ranked of the two nations if they beat Australia, climbing two places to seventh with the Wallabies falling to a new low of eighth.

Dave Rennie’s side will drop to ninth if the margin of defeat is by more than 15 points. An Australian victory will not result in any positional changes for either team.

South Africa hand hooker Malcolm Marx a first start since August 2021 for what will be his 50th test, while scrum-half Faf de Klerk and winger Kurt-Lee Arendse also come into the starting line-up in place of Jaden Hendrikse and the injured Cheslin Kolbe.

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Blockbusting winger Caleb Clarke will make his first appearance for the All Blacks since November 2020 as one of four personnel changes to the starting line-up with Samisoni Taukei’aho, Angus Ta’avao and Scott Barrett the other players handed a start.

Australia welcome back Quade Cooper after injury and hand flanker Jed Holloway his test debut in a match that will see captain Michael Hooper become the third most-capped Wallabies player in history.

Michael Cheika’s Argentina, meanwhile, have rung the changes with only six players retained in their starting line-up from the series decider with Scotland with captain Julián Montoya, flanker Marcos Kremer, scrum-half Tomás Cubelli and winger Santiago Cordero among those returning.

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