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The last Test match this Saturday between the British and Irish Lions versus the All Blacks will determine who wins the second and deciding game of the three-game series. New Zealand are favored to win at home in Eden Park where they have not lost since 1994.
The game effectively ends the 2017 fifteen and sevens season for the major, rugby-playing nations. So, it's time to review the past six-months of Men's, Women's, and Boys' results and the rankings in the five, distinct playing segments.
The key finding is the overwhelming Kiwi dominance in world rugby where New Zealand rank number one in Men's fifteens, Women's sevens, and are champions of the U-20 Boys tournament. Further, the Black Ferns stand second in Women's fifteens. The Kiwi Men's sevens, in an off year, finished fourth.
Only England seem competitive with a top slot in Women's fifteens, ranked second in Men's fifteens, second in Men's sevens, and a second place finish in the U-20 championship.
The World Rugby Women's World Cup is scheduled for August in Dublin and Belfast. A preliminary tune-up took place a few weeks ago in New Zealand with three of the top five teams. England, defending World Cup champions from 2014, were victorious. The final rankings before the World Cup.
1. England, 2. New Zealand, 3. Canada, 4. France, 5. Ireland (The USA are 8)
Ireland broke the All Blacks 18-game win streak in Chicago in November, 2016. Since then, the Kiwis won all Test matches until the Lions beat them 24-21 last week.
1. New Zealand, 2. England, 3. Ireland, 4. Australia, 5. South Africa (The USA are 17)
Of note in these world rankings is Canada dropping to 23rd, and for the first time ever, lower than an improving Germany.
The Black Ferns dominated this season's series winning five of six championships, and going 35-1 overall, losing the one game to the USA in Sydney. In five total seasons, New Zealand have won four, losing last year to Australia.
1. New Zealand, 2. Australia, 3. Canada, 4. Fiji, 5. Russia (The USA are 6)
The 2016/2017 series proved another sub par year for the All Blacks who dropped to fourth. In 18 prior seasons, their outstanding record is 12 wins, one second, two thirds, and three fourth place finishes. But the Kiwis have not won in the past three events.
1. South Africa, 2 England, 3. Fiji, 4. New Zealand, 5. USA
U-20 Boys Championship
How powerful were the Baby Blacks in this year's U-20 tournament? Final: New Zealand 64 - England 17.
1. New Zealand, 2. England, 3. South Africa, 4. France, 5. Australia (The USA do not compete in this U20 event or in the second tier U-20 Trophy Championship.)
Without doubt, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, New Zealand sets the highest standard of rugby in the world.