South Africa may have done Ireland a few favours during the Rugby Championship this year with their victory over the All Blacks in Wellington and their narrow loss at Loftus Versfeld.
The latter of the two games saw the All Blacks lose two ranking points and now have Ireland breathing down their necks after a wonderful season winning the grand slam in the Six Nations and a Series win over Australia in June.
If Ireland manage to claim their second victory over the All Blacks in Dublin next month and Steven Hansen’s men lose another game along the way, Joe Schmidt’s men will officially become the number one team for the first time in history.
The chances of the All Blacks losing two games during the November tests is unlikely but still possible. It would also mean that 2018 would be Steve Hansen's worst calendar year performance since he took over from Graham Henry.
Ireland have been formidable at home in recent times and could very well claim a victory over the World Champions, while anything could happen at Twickenham.
A few ranking points were exchanged but no positional changes. Overall in the RC, SA and ARG have made gains with NZ and AUS losing ground in the rankings. #rugby #rugbyunited #RugbyChampionship #rankings #RSAvNZL #ARGvAUS pic.twitter.com/lBl3sKlfi8— Rugby4Cast (@Rugby4Cast) October 7, 2018
This raises the tantalising prospect of potentially seeing New Zealand toppled off top spot in the World Rankings for the first time since late 2009, should certain results come to pass.#rugby #rugbyunited #RugbyChampionship #rankings @RugbyLAD7 @threeredkings— Rugby4Cast (@Rugby4Cast) October 7, 2018
For this to happen, IRE need to beat NZ with NZ losing one other match. This is most likely to be ENG, so we have run that particular scenario below to show the rankings should this happen. #rugby #rugbyunited #rugbychampionship #rankings @RugbyLAD7 @threeredkings @RugbyNZ_ pic.twitter.com/s1bdFul4je— Rugby4Cast (@Rugby4Cast) October 7, 2018