Boks must beat All Blacks to stay tops

When the Springboks take on the All Blacks on Saturday they will be playing for more than just the Tri-Nations log points or the pride to do well in their first outing as world champions against a top class side. There is also the matter of ranking.

When the Springboks take on the All Blacks on Saturday they will be playing for more than just the Tri-Nations log points or the pride to do well in their first outing as world champions against a top class side. There is also the matter of ranking.

The Boks are still the first-ranked team in world rugby - but even a one-point win by New Zealand in Saturday's Test in Wellington will see the All Blacks leapfrog them.

South Africa, who are on 90,81 points with New Zealand on 89,79, will drop to 90,01 if they lose by 15 points or less, and New Zealand will increase their position to 90,59 points.

A defeat by more than 15 points will see the All Blacks move clear with a total of 90,99 points to 89,61 of South Africa.

But both teams are so far ahead of third-placed Australia (84,56 points) that the Wallabies will not be able to catch either of them based on the next two Saturdays' results in Wellington and Dunedin.

Just how difficult it will be for the Springboks to maintain their position is obvious from their success rate in New Zealand in recent times.

The last time the Boks won in New Zealand was in 1998, when present Blue Bulls backline coach Pieter Rossouw ghosted through a gap created by an inside pass from flyhalf Henry Honiball.

The closest the Boks have since come to victory in New Zealand was in July 2004 when they went down 23-21 and in August 2005 when they lost 31-27. Both matches were played in Dunedin.

Looking at the international rankings it seems clear that the world's rugby power is in the south - despite the two surprising defeats by Argentina against Scotland and Italy.

With the three Tri-Nations adversaries, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia taking up the first three positions, Argentina have clung on to the fourth position - marginally above England.

Wales, who the Springboks beat in two Tests, are sixth and Italy are ranked 11th. - Sapa

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