The Rugby Championship 2017 Preview

in #steemsports7 years ago (edited)

SteemSports Presenter: @sportsdesk

SteemSports General Manager: @theprophet0

Now the super rugby season is complete with the triumphant Crusaders raising the trophy on Ellis Park (apologies Lions fans), we move onto the next phase of the global rugby calendar in the form of the Rugby Championship. This is the southern hemisphere equivalent of the Six Nations, involving the Wallabies (Australia), the Boks (South Africa), the All Blacks (NZ) and Los Pumas (Argentina).
Last year’s competition was dominated by the All Blacks, who were on their world breaking run of 18 consecutive wins at the time (err Cyprus actually hold the record for most consecutive wins of 24 but against lower tier nations). There was daylight between the All Blacks and the three other sides, culminating in putting 50 points on the Boks in a 57-15 win at Kings Park, Durban.
This year the competition promises to be stiffer. The Boks appear to have regained at least some of their mojo, the All Blacks have shown a few cracks since those heady days of 2016, the Pumas always play with passion and are tough on home soil, while it’s hard what to make of the Australians while Cheika has his firm hand on the tiller. The competition consists of six rounds, each team playing each other in a home and away fixture.

The Boks

They’ll use last year’s shoddy season by their standards as a blueprint not to repeated. They lost to both Argentina and Australia away from home while losing heavily to the All Blacks home and away. Their form in 2017 suggests they may be returning to be the force of old. The Lions played some spectacular rugby during the super rugby season while the Boks continued this form during their convincing 3-0 series win against the French in June. The international rugby scene needs a strong Springboks side so this rugby championship will be a guide as to how they may shape up for the 2019 World Cup. They will be without captain Warren Whiteley who is still sidelined with a groin injury.
The Springboks squad to meet Argentina in Port Elizabeth is: Andries Coetzee, Raymond Rhule, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfontein, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Uzair Cassiem, Jaco Kriel, Siya Kolisi, Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth (captain), Coenie Oosthuizen, Malcolm Marx, Tendai Mtawarira
Reserves: Bongi Mbonambi, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Jean-Luc du Preez, Francois Hougaard, Curwin Bosch, Damian de Allende

Los Pumas

Since beating the Boks 12 months ago, the Pumas have had only one win in 10 tests. However their 0-2 series loss to a young England side in June were both close fought affairs, and they followed this with a confidence building 45-29 win over Georgia. They will bring their traditional forward power game to dominate other sides while their inventive and expansive game (when unleashed) cannot be overlooked either. They will always be a force at home.
The Pumas Squad is: 15 Joaquin Tuculet; 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli; 10 Nicolas Sanchez, 9 Martin Landajo; 8 Leonardo Senatore, 7 Tomas Lezana, 6 Pablo Matera; 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Guido Petti; 3 Enrique Pieretto, 2 Agustin Creevy (captain), 1 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro
Reserves: Julian Montoya, Lucas Noguera, Ramiro Herrera, Marcos Kremer, Javier Ortega Desio, Tomas Cubelli, Juan Martin Hernandez, Matias Moroni

The All Blacks

Since the end of the last Rugby Championship, the All Blacks have arguably had their worst period under coach Hansen, forcing some commentators to report of cracks appearing. They lost to Ireland in Chicago in November, though redeemed that loss with a convincing win at Lansdowne Road two weeks later. Earlier this year during they drew a hard fought three test series with the British and Irish Lions, after convincingly winning the first test 30-15. There was little of the razzle dazzle in the Lions series, rather a more conservative “horses for courses” game plan to take on the Lions defensive tactics. Other teams will have taken note though on how to nullify the scintillating All Blacks attack, and it will be interesting whether they adopt this approach against the All Blacks and how well they execute it.
The All Blacks squad for their opener against Australia in Sydney raised a few eyebrows. Youngster Damien McKenzie is selected at fullback with Ben Smith returning onto the wing and Israel Dagg being rested. In the forwards Liam Squire is preferred ahead of veteran Jerome Kaino at blindside who drops out of the playing 23.
The All Blacks squad to meet Australia in Sydney is: Damian McKenzie, Ben Smith, Ryan Crotty, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Liam Squire, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody
Reserves: Nathan Harris, Wyatt Crockett, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Luke Romano, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Lima Sopoaga, Anton Lienert-Brown.

The Wallabies

Where does one start when discussing the current Wallabies? The Australian teams in super rugby have gone 0 from 26 in 2017 against NZ sides. They have been seen running up hills with mouths taped shut. They have internal turmoil with the Western Force threatening to sue the ARU over the former’s sacking from super rugby. And they have just had a member of parliament show up to chambers in a full burka. But back to the rugby, despite all the aforementioned, they are still a team to be respected and taken seriously. Their form in 2017 is chequered having beaten Fiji and Italy while losing to Scotland. They may well have to rely on their “digger spirit” and never say die attitude. Coach Cheika is unpredictable and possibly it is time for his mercurial talents to shine. He has selected a mostly predictable side to take on the All Blacks in Sydney.
The Wallabies Squad is: Israel Folau, Henry Speight, Samu Kerevi, Kurtley Beale, Curtis Rona, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Sean McMahon, Michael Hooper (captain), Ned Hanigan, Adam Coleman, Rory Arnold, Allan Alaalatoa, Stephen Moore, Scott Sio Reserves: Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson, Sekope Kepu, Rob Simmons, Lopeti Timani, Nick Phipps, Reece Hodge, Tevita Kuridrani

Round One Fixtures

Wallabies vs All Blacks, Sydney, 19 Aug, 8pm (local)

Springboks vs Pumas, Port Elizabeth, 19 Aug, 5.05pm (local)


Congratulations at the champions 😊

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