New Zealand’s long-held status as the world’s number one ranked team is under threat this weekend as they prepare to take on Australia in the third and final Bledisloe Cup match of the year in Yokohama, Japan.
While New Zealand have already retained the Bledisloe Cup for a 16th consecutive year after winning 38-13 in Sydney and 40-12 in Auckland on successive weekends in August, Saturday’s match in Japan’s second largest city, at the venue where the RWC 2019 final will also be held, is still an important marker in the build-up to next year’s tournament as well as preparing the teams for their upcoming tours to Europe.
For Australia, valuable rating points are also on the line with a positive result guaranteed to lift them away from their current all-time low of seventh in the World Rugby Rankings.
A draw or a narrow win would be enough to take Australia above South Africa and Scotland into fifth place, while a winning margin of more than 15 points would lift the Wallabies up a further place to fourth, on 85.86 points.
Such an outcome would also result in New Zealand losing top spot to Ireland, a position they have held since 16 November, 2009.
Material derived from World Rugby