All Blacks v Argentina: New Zealand loss would bring an all-time low in world rankings

There is no doubt that Ardie Savea will be eyeing the All Blacks’ chance to rise, rather than fall, down the rankings ladder. Photo / Photosport

The All Blacks are staring down the possibility of a previously-unimagined low in rugby’s world rankings.

World Rugby has revealed that if the New Zealand side suffers another defeat to Argentina in Hamilton on Saturday it could drop to as low as seventh on the ladder of international rugby teams and be battling with the likes of Scotland and Wales for elite legitimacy.

The All Blacks have rarely before suffered a prolonged run of results quite like the sequence that began last November with the 29-20 loss to Ireland.

That defeat in Dublin was followed by another in Paris, two in July this year and two more in August to leave the All Blacks in the unprecedented position of having just two wins from their last eight tests.

“Argentina will be the higher-ranked of the two teams if they secure back-to-back wins over New Zealand, climbing to fifth and condemning the All Blacks to a new low of sixth. Los Pumas have not been ranked as high as sixth since June 2016, “World Rugby said in its latest rankings preview ahead of Rugby Championship’s fourth round.

“New Zealand could fall to seventh in defeat if they lose by more than 15 points and Australia win. If Argentina and Australia both win by more than 15 points, Los Pumas will climb to fourth for the first time since Rugby World Cup 2015.”

However, with a record of beating the Pumas by an average of 34 points in Hamilton over the years, the All Blacks will no doubt be hoping history repeats and if it does, they have the chance to be rewarded with a more familiar place on the rankings ladder like Sunday.

“New Zealand will climb two places to third if they beat Argentina by more than 15 points and South Africa lose again in Australia.”

The Wallabies are another team feeling the pressure of world rankings, with an all-time low staring them in the face if the Springboks beat them convincingly and the All Blacks stumble once again.

“The Wallabies can fall two places to a new low of eighth if they lose by more than 15 points and Argentina avoid defeat against New Zealand.”

Coach Ian Foster has named the same starting 15 for New Zealand’s last three tests – a 35-23 win over South Africa in Johannesburg, the 25-18 loss to Argentina last weekend and for Saturday’s match at Hamilton.

Meanwhile, the Pumas now have the chance to match Ireland by beating the All Blacks in back-to-back tests in New Zealand. It’s something that in the past might have been unthinkable. But teams now are willing to consider those possibilities which shows how much the All Blacks’ aura of invincibility has faded.