It’s the final countdown!

The Rugby Championship is SANZAAR’s final dress rehearsal for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and it commences on Saturday when the Springboks host the Wallabies at Ellis Park (5pm) before the All Blacks take on the Pumas in Buenos Aires (8pm).

The Wallabies have only once beaten the Boks in the last five meetings between the teams and, though that record disguises a pair of stalemates in 2017, South Africa has won nine of 10 previous Tests against Australia at Ellis Park (the maiden loss came all the way back in 1963), and 13 of their last 16 matches against all comers at the venue.

While it’s been a bumpy 12 months for both sides, the Boks will go into the match with more momentum as a 50% win record during that period includes an inspiring win against the All Blacks in New Zealand; the Wallabies will hop on having won three of their last 10 Tests.

The Wallabies’ best player, Israel Folau is persona non grata at Rugby Australia and that has reduced some of the risk in Rassie Erasmus’ decision to deploy his front-line troops to New Zealand in anticipation of next week’s clash at the Cake Tin.

In terms of their Rugby Championship stats, the Boks will look to leverage their status as the competition’s most prolific tackle-and-turnover proponents (Pieter-Steph du Toit led the comp with 83 tackles) against a Wallabies outfit that ranks second for carries and linebreaks.

Erasmus will also be eager to use SA’s kicking game to confirm whether Australia have improved the comp’s least efficient lineout – Eben Etzebeth finished second for lineout steals in 2018.

The Pumas have not beaten the All Blacks in 33 Tests, and this week represents a golden opportunity to change that.

The defending champions have travelled to Buenos Aires sans the leading Crusaders campaigners that denied the Jaguares in the Super Rugby final. It’s a development compounded by Argentina reinforcing their Jaguares-laden ranks by calling the grizzled overseas contingent of Nicolas Sanchez, Facundo Isa, Santiago Corder and Juan Figallo.

Argentina finished 2018 with the best goal-kicking success rate (83%) and Sanchez topped the points-scorer’s list (67).

But a recording-breaking loss will nonetheless require something special as the All Blacks ranked first overall in 70% of key statistics in 2018.





- Zelim Nel

Let's chat

  • Barry

    It is probably more meaningful to consider Super Rugby form rather than stand out player from “2018” and past history, as the article has done, because simply, so much changes in 13 months of rugby!

    We should perhaps be mindful that The Brumbies managed to get into the Semifinals whilst none of the SA sides did!

    The Brumbies scrum was surprisingly capable and ended in third spot, whilst those SA franchises likely to make the scrum number ended in 10th and 12th spot. It would seem unlikely that we would be upstaged in this area, but SR results leave a question mark.

    The position is reversed in the line outs, where the Bulls were good in this area in third spot – Brumbies 7th.

    Much will depend on the final match day mix!

  • John Comyn

    Unless one knows who the side for Saturday is, things could change dramatically. For example, if Jantjies plays the odds of a comfortable win change. If he loads the side with the overseas based contingent they might need to get up to speed with the international game which is apparently faster and takes time to get used to. I’m talking about the guys that have not played test rugby for a long time. I heard that OZ will play their strongest side. Going to be interesting.

    • Wesley

      Haha John, wanting to incur the the wrath of Hermie again today… You seem to enjoy it… : )

      • Herman

        Not so, Jantjies is off the pace I’ll admit and should not be included. Rassie doesn’t play his smart type of rugby anyway so he’s wasted in the Bok setup. Jitterbug Pollard from the SR QF can play all the games as far as I’m concerned. Good luck to all concerned if they do so, they’re sure gonna need it. Cheers.

  • Whynger

    I have,for the first time, looked at the list of players currently attending the Springbok camp. Is it still a camp or do we have squad? A camp would mean that outsiders may still be invited to join the squad.

    I always thought that we could muster the best tight five in the world, but the Super Rugby season left me a little disillusioned. The props I expected to move to the next level (Kitshoff and Louw) did not progress at all. Louw actually regressed significantly. Sadie, who did not receive an invitation to the camp, and Gqoboka made huge strides. The Wallabies can field a very solid front row, if they pick Tupuo to start. I doubt they will. They will probably field Kepu and Sio. Gqoboka should start on Saturday, so he can be evaluated early. At tighthead they will probably do something stupid and start with Malherbe and put Nyakane on the bench. Malherbe does not push. My views on Nyakane is well known. A good loosehead (of which we have three better ones), but a poor tighthead. Thomas du Toit is just a … No I will not insult him any more. He does not pick himself. Good rugby player. No prop.

    We are so blessed at lock. In spite of that, I expect that Orie will be on the bench on Saturday. None of the others will let us down.

    Our loose forwards do not inspire much confidence. Period. They never make it to the point of breakdown first. Either they are too slow, or they just don’t play towards the ball consistently enough. I hope someone will surprise me over the next couple of weeks.

    Enough has been said about the back line’s lack of skill and vision. I think the Springbok management missed a trick by not calling up Cornal Hendricks when Dyantyi was withdrawn. He was phenomenal in the quarter final against the Hurricanes. It probably does not matter anyway. The overall performance of the back line hinges on only two questions. Will they allow Faf to be Faf (and not expect him to be Fourie du Preez) and which Willie le Roux will turn up for the match?

    • Herman

      Good read I agree with most of it, well done. Cheers.

  • Crucial

    You seem to be quite the slow one because it’s been stated for the last two weeks that Faf and Willie probably won’t play at Ellis Park and will travel to New Zealand early. Do you even read the articles or do you just go straight to the comments to begin ranting and raving?

    • Whynger

      You have not really analysed the meaning of ranting and raving, have you? Just a name caller and a prodder you are. Are you actually stupid enough to accept the strategy as logical and even possibly effective? And please quote the article by rated journalists, that specifically says that these two specific players will not play in this specific match. Now that was a mini rant and rave.

      Not that interested really. Its all BS anyway. I cannot accept the logic of playing two different sides in game three and four out from the World Cup. If Faf and Willie are not playing, it should mean that there is someone better available for the match. And we don’t have any better.

      I feel that Faf is our only effective scrumhalf. Even though he does not do the Du Preez/Murray box kicking to perfection, he is quite unique and extremely effective in what he does do well: defend, attack and speed up the game by clearing quicker as the match progresses. The rest do the box kick, but not well enough for it to build your match strategy around. And the rest of their game does not compensate for the inaccuracies in their kicking game.

      Willie at his best is a creator and game breaker. At worst, he is just another fullback like Gelant and Leyds or even Steyn. Why would you bother with these people. Play Willie and use Kolbe to back him up. If Willie is as out of form as some of the writers on this website claim, we have a problem.

      • John Comyn

        Disagree with you on splitting the team. Rassie has stated that the objective is to win the competition. He stated that it is highly unlikely that any side can play a test in SA and a week later expect to beat the AB’s on the other side of the planet. The obvious thing is to risk losing at home to OZ playing a 2nd string and he clearly believes his 2nd string are good enough to beat OZ at home. Rassie is no fool mate! BTW the AB’s have sent a 2nd string to Argentina. There is absolutely no need at all to play a dozen games before the WC!

        • Herman

          Rassie is no fool ? I’ve just posted on the new site ‘Operation Countdown’ so won’t repeat myself here except to ask, why can they not play their best fifteen in the first two tests ? Travelling is part and parcel of tournaments these days and most teams have adapted, just ask the Argies. The Boks need GAME time more than anything else so tough it out. Cheers.

        • Whynger

          The proof of the pudding is in the eating. We shall see if faith is enough.

      • Barry

        Mind not fence sitters Whynger, they contribute nothing to the blog!

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