World Champions and IRB ranking leaders New Zealand hit the lead in the 10 Nations tournament over the weekend.
The All Blacks took full advantage of their game in hand over South Africa by defeating England, while the Springboks spun their wheels playing a team outside the tournament.
Only a history making loss to the Irish can seemingly stop them claiming the championship VoVos – much to the relief of tournament organisers, it must be said.
Ireland have essentially locked in sixth position with their loss to Australia, regardless of the result of their final match against the Kiwis with France behind them on seventh.
Only a 40-odd point win against the South Africans this weekend can lift the French to sixth.
A result like this, though very unlikely, would arguably produce an unfairly high finish for the French, who have so far lost all their real world matches in the tournament. It wouldn’t be the first time the French have finished high in a major tournament despite performing poorly for the bulk of it.
All other positions are largely settled barring places three to five.
As predicted last week the final match of the tournament in Cardiff will decide the fates of England, Australia and Wales, with all three having a chance of finishing third.
Wales simply need to beat Australia and they will leapfrog England due to their superior adjusted differential. Australia would need to beat Wales by 19 points to do the same – a suitable finale for this thrilling tournament.
Current tournament rankings are below.
1 New Zealand 37
2 South Africa 34
3 England 31
4 Australia 26
5 Wales 26
6 Ireland 20
7 France 15
8 Italy 15
9 Samoa 11
10 Argentina 5
Due to the settled nature of the table, the next update will come after the tournament finishes in two weeks’ time.