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With the quarter-finalists occupying the top eight places in the IRB World Rankings, there is plenty of scope for change this weekend, including a new side rising to the top, the end of the southern hemisphere dominance of the top three and a new high for Wales.
The only certainties are that no one will fall out of the top eight and a New Zealand victory over Argentina in the fourth quarter-final on Sunday will have no impact on the rating points, a consequence of the All Blacks playing on home soil against a side ranked six places and more than 10 points below them.
A victorious New Zealand will remain the top side in the rankings, regardless of whether Australia or South Africa earn the right to face the RWC 2011 hosts in the semi-finals.
However, a South African win by more than 15 points against the Wallabies will bring the Springboks to within 1.5 rating points of the All Blacks.
Argentina can improve their ranking even if their RWC 2011 involvement comes to an end, with an Ireland victory over Wales consigning the Welsh to a slip from sixth spot. Things could be even better for the Pumas as Ireland and England could also fall below them, depending on the margin of defeats.
Wales will slide to eighth if they lose and France rediscover their form to beat England at Eden Park on Saturday, an outcome which will see Les Bleus climb above their opponents when the rankings update at 12:00 UK time on Monday, regardless of the winning margin they enjoy.
By contrast, if a youthful Wales can reach a first RWC semi-final since 1987 then they could climb to a new high of third, although this is dependent on a number of criteria, including their winning margin over Ireland and the outcomes of the South Africa-Australia and England-France battles.
Ireland and England can also break the southern hemisphere dominance of the top three with victories on Saturday, although the Irish cannot overtake their rivals from across the Irish Sea if both win to set up a semi-final showdown.
Battle for top spot
Australia can climb to the summit of the IRB World Rankings for the first time if they end South Africa’s reign as world champions and New Zealand suffer a first ever loss to Argentina. However, they can also slip to fifth, equalling their lowest ever position, with defeat.
A 12th successive RWC win could also see South Africa return to the top spot for the first time since 2009, but defeat will be just as costly as it is for the Wallabies with the Springboks falling as low as sixth, a position they last occupied in 2004.
If New Zealand’s dreams of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup die again in the quarter-finals then they can fall no lower than third with their conquerors Argentina potentially jumping ahead of them, if the margin is great enough.
France could also be a nation on the rise if they can win ‘le crunch’ against England, with victory likely to regain the three places they lost on the back of last weekend’s shock 19-14 defeat by Tonga, a side that now sits directly below Les Bleus in the rankings.