and of course ranking opportunities in the Bronze Final
A game that is often billed as “the game no-one wants to play in”, sees New Zealand facing Wales for the Bronze position in the Tournament. In interviews during the week, Wales coach Warren Gatland commented ‘I think New Zealand’s CEO Steve Tew made a joke to our chief executive Martyn Phillips that both teams should have a boat race and we could settle it that way!’1
In all seriousness, following the disappointment to both teams of not making the Final, they are surely planning to put on a performance to impress everyone watching this game. New Zealand will want to show that the previous game was not up to their usual standard and go out on a high, and Wales want to get that first win over New Zealand in more than 65 years.
Both teams can redeem themselves in this match by delivering a strong performance. In terms of ranking, despite losing to England in the semi-final, New Zealand just managed to keep the top spot in the rankings table and go into this match as firm favourites to win.
To hang on to this though, they not only have to beat Wales, but do so by a good enough margin. We demonstrate below the score lines that need to be reached to keep the All Blacks at the top of the rankings table. The black areas represent some of the score lines New Zealand can win the match by to maintain their number 1 ranking.
In numbers, this could look like:
- 5 – 0
- 10 – 3
- 15 – 6
- 30 – 17
Should New Zealand win by bigger margins, their ranking score will increase further. Giving them a bigger buffer to defend their position from potential usurpers, namely England and South Africa, although the latter need a very strong result in the final to achieve this. More on that in our upcoming post previewing the hotly anticipated Final.
Wales will have to give us another underdog story to defeat New Zealand. And as we’ve seen in this tournament, they can come from anywhere. Despite the odds in this match, Wales continue their ongoing ranking battle for fourth place with South Africa, who are currently winning this saga. But, a respectable loss to New Zealand or better would increase their rankings points and take them above South Africa once again to the 4th place in the table.
What could this look like?
The plot below shows the distribution of ranking outcomes to scores, the scores highlighted red would move Wales back into 4th position.
- 5 – 8
- 10 – 14
- 20 – 25
would see Wales overtake South Africa again on the penultimate day of the competition.
With both coaches, Gatland and Hansen stepping down at the end of this tournament, the teams will want to do their respective coaches proud. Whilst it is not the Webb Ellis trophy they are playing for, pride and maintaining their nations status in the rankings table is something both Wales and New Zealand will be looking to achieve with a strong final performance.
With the opportunity for Wales to go into fourth and New Zealand to maintain their top ranking, the stakes are high. The results of this match will lay down the gauntlet to their ranking rivals, South Africa and England, who themselves will have the chance to redress the balance in the table for the final time in this tournament, as well as lift the Rugby World Cup on Saturday.