After five losses from their last six tests, including three defeats in a row, and with unwanted records mounting, the All Blacks summoned their brilliant best to snap their funk and bring the world champions down to earth. Video / Sky Sports
The All Blacks have begun their climb back up the world rankings, gaining one spot after their win over the Springboks at Ellis Park.
After falling to an all-time low of fifth in the world following last weekend’s loss to the South Africans, their bounce-back performance lifted them above England and just 0.02 ranking points behind the third-placed Springboks.
Under the world ranking system, there is an extra penalty if the margin of victory exceeds 15 points, so the All Blacks’ 35-23 win in Johannesburg on Sunday morning fell just short of seeing the All Blacks overtake South Africa.
It was a performance to silence the critics, as the All Blacks played with freedom, got some early respect through their physicality and forced the Springboks into some very early changes, were confident under the high ball and defended well.
The display turned the form book on its head and saw some vindication for embattled head coach Ian Foster, who made several changes to his starting side – including both starting props – despite the narrative heading into this test being centered around whether or not he would keep his job.
Richie Mo’unga provided notable depth, with the width of his passing and controlled kicking giving the All Blacks much-needed direction throughout his maiden start at first-five this season.
The midfield of David Havili and Rieko Ioane gave a terrific account of their capabilities after their positions had come into question; while Ardie Savea was again immense at No 8 and secured several key turnovers deep in All Blacks territory to relieve heavy pressure.
New Zealand and England swapping places wasn’t the only move in the rankings following Sunday morning’s results. Australia’s 48-17 loss to Argentina saw them overtaken by Scotland in the rankings, which pushed the Wallabies down to seventh overall.
The All Blacks were ranked number one from 2010 to midway through the 2019 season and briefly regained their status as the world’s top team in 2021 before relinquishing that position to South Africa.
Currently, Ireland sit atop the world rankings with 90.03 points, ahead of France (89.41). South Africa sit third with 87.78 points with New Zealand on 87.76.