The All Blacks’ grip on the number one spot in the World Rugby rankings is beginning to loosen after their shock 34-36 loss to the Springboks in Wellington on Saturday.
Steve Hansen’s side produced an uncharacteristic error-strewn performance as a lively South African side punished their southern hemisphere rivals en route to a famous victory.
The result comes as a timely reminder that this side, as invincible as they may seem at times, are in fact, human.
The way the World Rugby rankings work means that a country is particularly vulnerable if they lose to a side who are ranked well below them.
This is what happened to the All Blacks today as they lost to a South Africa side who were ranked 7th in the world before today’s fixture.
That 34-36 loss means that New Zealand’s points total has fallen by two; from 94.52 to 92.52.
New Zealand are now just 2.4 points ahead of Ireland who are ranked second in the world. The gap has almost been cut in half due to the loss in Wellington this morning.
Hypothetically, if Ireland were to play New Zealand at home next weekend and they won by a margin of 16 points, Ireland would be ranked the number one side in the world.
Of course, there are plenty more games to play before Ireland welcome New Zealand to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on 17 November but it adds yet another interesting narrative to what should be a superb fixture between the two best teams in the world.