So the All Blacks will be back as the number one ranked team in the world tomorrow morning when the weekly ranking update is released.
You will have noticed that this gives us the following sequence:
Saturday 17 August All Blacks beat Australia 36-0
Monday 19 August All Blacks drop from #1 to #2 in World Rugby rankings: Wales moved from #2 to #1 (the first time ever the Boyos from the Valleys have been top-ranked, good on ya).
Saturdays 24 August and 31 August All Blacks have a rest
Monday 2 September All Blacks will return to #1 ranking (and GirtBySea are still at #6, oh dear never mind what a shame).
From those bare facts you will have concluded that the World Rankings are a plot by the World Rugby Orcs (aka, the Eton and Balliol Alumni Society of Chinless Wonders) to be utterly ridiculous.
But throw in a few more facts:
Sunday 11 August England beat Wales 33-19
Saturday 17 August South Africa beat Argentina 24-18
France beat Scotland 32-3
Saturday 24 August Scotland beat France 17-14
England beat Ireland 57-15 (ouch)
Saturday 31 August Ireland beat Wales 22-17
The results are all over the place as coaches are trying out their World Cup squads. They’re not that into winning each particular match. It’s the Phony War period, and the rankings are very very noisy.
What you really need to do see in the Rankings is the big picture, not the detail.
And it’s this: the gap between the All Blacks and the chasers has closed up since RWC2015.
Any team in the mid-80s (England, Ireland, Wales, South Africa, New Zealand) is regularly playing well, and are genuine contenders in Japan. Australia is, well, who knows really? Not Michael Cheika, anyway.
Argentina, I reckon, is better than their number says because they get to be beaten by the All Blacks all the time in the Rugby Championship. France are France, which is to say they’re pretty rubbish but they’ll have one good game in Japan and upset someone.
This is the big picture: New Zealand is in the pack of possibles. We’re not out of it, but we’re not ahead of it either.
Worry. That’s what we need to do: worry.