It’s a really strange Rugby Championship this year. It’s not really a standalone tournament rather more of a Rugby World Cup warm-up. We’ve seen that already with Hansen saying that winning isn’t a good indicator for the Rugby World Cup. We are also seeing the Springboks sending players over to New Zealand for the second game meaning they can’t play against the Wallabies.
So how the teams be approaching each game? No one likes to loose so the players picked will clearly be going for the win. However we could see some really interesting selections as the coaches look at different players with later in the year in mind.
Before we get into the actual predictions, I have a series “DrivingMaul v The Bookie” where I’ll be tracking all my bets on the rugby. If you want to be part of the fun, you can simply bet on Rugby by yourself also.
South Africa v Australia – South Africa by 7
The last time that we had an away win in this fixture was back in 2013 when when the Springboks downed the Wallabies 12-38. There have been a couple of draws in that time but the away team have never got the upper hand.
This time though it’s all a bit different. I’m expecting the Wallabies to be at full strength but not the Springboks. The Wallabies are much more desperate for the win as they have been having a hard time of things over the last year. That’s seen them slip to 6th in the World Rankings.
The Springboks only sit one place above them in 5th but the whole atmosphere is much more positive. Their teams in Super Rugby were much more competitive if very unpredictable. Also the coaching setup is seen appears to be taking the team on the up where as Cheika appears to have peeked a few years ago. In the end I’m going with history and home advantage.
Argentina v New Zealand – New Zealand by 7
The Pumas have never beaten the All Blacks. This though has to be their best opportunity ever. Hansen has said that he’s not too worried about the results in the opening two games. Also he has left nearly all his title winning Crusaders back in New Zealand. He has only taken 3 outside backs in Bridge, Enor and Reese. I feel that they have gone as Hansen doesn’t know them as well and it’s more about learning about their personalities than necessarily playing them.
The Pumas have called up four overseas based players and it’s going to be interesting how quickly Ledesma integrates them into his side. The Jaguares players could go one of two ways. Either they will see this game as revenge for the Super Rugby final loss. Or they will be tired both physically and emotionally from that game and the travel back to Argentina. We won’t know the answer to that until game day.
Again I’m going with history and an All Blacks win. But all the other times New Zealand have won by more than ten points. This time I think it could be closer than that.
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