• False Hope Springs Eternal as World Pursues Number One All Blacks

    Slim and none.

    That is the way we chose to characterise the chances of the South African Springboks beating the All Blacks for a second consecutive game.

    New Zealand is a lock to retain the world number one ranking and the loss to the Springboks in Wellington has to be viewed an anomaly that will not be repeated when the two sides meet in Pretoria.

    Ireland is knocking at the door and would like to see the gap between the Emerald Isle and New Zealand shrink, but it would appear that the nine-years atop the World Rugby rankings is not something the All Blacks will surrender quietly.

    Following the game with South Africa, the ABs will play the Wallabies in Japan and they have England and Ireland in November, so the balance of 2018 will not find New Zealand in its usual comfort zone.

    Due to the intricacies of the rugby rankings system, a loss to the lowly, fifth ranked South African side would hurt the All Blacks more than would losing to a higher ranked squad.

    New Zealand currently holds 92.52 points, with Six Nations champ Ireland on 90.12.

    The All Blacks have been on top since 2009 and for the Irish to get truly close, the Springboks would have to beat New Zealand by more than 15 points. If New Zealand win by 15 or more, they will increase their margin at the top of the rankings ladder, but the second edge of that blade is that a win over the low ranked South African side will not supply as many points as would a win over one of the higher ranked teams.

    It is going on 10 years now that opposing coaches, pundits of all stripes and others have been trumpeting the belief that New Zealand is vulnerable, but it is truly difficult to see them losing to either South Africa or Australia in Japan.

    England and Ireland are entirely different propositions, but this is not the first time we have seen the All Blacks written off, putting us in mind of the immortal quote by mark Twain, “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.