It had to happen. In an age where sport is more and more a science, the final indefinable - exactly whose rugby team is better than whose and by how much - has been nailed right down.
Shane Hudson, of the University of Canterbury's Computer Science department, has created IRUPT, or International Rugby Union Performance Table, which has taken up residence on the department's Webserver.
Hudson describes IRUPT as "a ratings system for rugby nations based on recent test match results. For every test match, both teams are assigned a performance number - generally in the range 50-300, the higher the better.
"The weighted average of a team's most recent 10 matches is used to compute its rating after each match. The performance a team is given for a match will depend on the rating of the two teams at the start of the match and the score. A win by a large margin results in a higher performance than a narrow victory."
Hudson has even made the IRUPT program (in C source code) available for download, along with the complete results file and detailed descriptions of the results format and ratings system.
Results have been compiled as far back as 1993, and the latest rankings, unsurprisingly, seec New Zealand (271 points) at the top, followed by South Africa (260) and England (242).
The list does, however, suggest that the All Blacks should not take their forthcoming test with Argentina too lightly. Los Pumas come in at a surprising sixth place with 199 points. Rugby sages would probably also regard their other early-season opponents, Fiji, as 12 place on 174 point, as considerably under-rated.
The IRUPT home page is at: