Give tries for me Argentina....
The key to winning the 2015 Rugby Championship may well rest with none other than Argentina. Strange to think that the weakest or “least strong” if you want to be politically correct, team in the competition may determine the fate of the silverware.
Let’s be brutally honest, no one is giving the Pumas the slightest chance of success during the competition, why would you, the odds are stacked against them even before the first whistle shrieks. The All Blacks are gunning for a world record 18th consecutive victory on the trot; the Springboks are looking to close the gap between the top 2 teams in the world by beating the no 1 team in the world ….. twice; and the Wallabies will not be the same “push over” team as last season, bet your bottom dollar.
So what does that have to do with Argentina? Well, let’s have a look at the math shall we. A seasoned gambler would consider the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies beating the Pumas both home and away, to be the safe bet. Should that happen, those three teams would have a total of 8 points (excluding any bonus points for 4 tries or more at this stage) on the overall log after 2 games per team, and Argentina with a cool 0 after 6 games…game over Argentina.
And then there were 3.
Considering the massive leap the team from Australia has made over the last season, to say that both the Boks and the Blacks will have their work cut out for them to beat the Wallabies in Australia, is a huge understatement. With some of the dead wood, the likes of Quade Cooper & Will Genia to mention but a few, cut from the squad (all be it due to injury) has in my opinion, only served to strengthen the team as a whole.
This “new” Wallaby team is going to be a tough nut to crack, especially on their home turf. Tough, but by no means impossible mind you. Both the All Blacks and the Springboks should have enough grit to outlast the initial onslaught from the Wallabies, and then outclass them in the last 15 or 10 minutes to earn an away win. Things might be a bit easier on the home leg of the competition, with both the All Blacks and the Springboks securing a “relatively easy” victory on home soil…knock on wood. So this means the log should be: NZ and SA on 16 points, AUS on 8 and ARG on a lonely 0.
The last two left standing.
Positive as I would like to be, realistically I cannot foresee the Springboks beating the All Blacks in New Zealand. Don’t get me wrong, the Bokke will give them more than a run for their money, and the All Blacks will wake up the next morning with more than just a bump and a bruise to show for their efforts, but when the fat lady starts to sing, the All Blacks will be the winning team.
This leaves us in a strangely similar position as last season, doesn’t it? Mouthwatering prospect of a “final” between the All Blacks and the Springboks at Ellis Park (where have we seen that before?) Surely this has to be the year the Springboks will be able to secure a home victory against the old foe? Should the rugby gods smile down on the Springboks on the 4th of October and the Bokke emerge the victor, that would result in a points log looking something like this: NZ and SA both on 20, AUS on 8 and ARG bringing up the rear on 0.
With the All Blacks, Springboks and Wallabies so close to each other as far as form and talent is concerned, 4 try bonus points between the teams seems unlikely, and this is where the forgotten child Argentina suddenly takes center stage. Even if the Wallabies manage to plunder the Pumas and secure 2 bonus points, they are still out of the running due to their losses against the All Blacks and Springboks (again….knock on wood).
This means we have a straight race between the Blacks and the Bokke….which ever team manages to secure the ever important bonus points against the Pumas, would inevitably be crowned the 2015 Rugby Championship winners. So it seems the Pumas really will decide the fate of the silverware……who would have thought?