All year, rugby media around the world has been scrutinizing the All Blacks’ form. Intricate details of every performance are inspected under the microscope on a daily basis, seeking to answer one question:
Why is the world’s best rugby team losing, week after week?
Now, with the All Blacks having lost again—this time, making even more history, as New Zealand lose three in a row at home for the first time ever—we’re starting to run out of answers.
This side is simply in a funk, and it’s going to take some getting out of.
However, all of this focus on New Zealand’s woes has masked something else stirring in the rugby waters.
Could this be the year that we see an Argentina Rugby Championship?
The Audacity of an Argentinian Victory
Only once before has the Argentina rugby team won two games in a single Rugby Championship.
Never have they scored more than eight points on the Rugby Championship ladder, across the entire tournament.
Heading into the 2022 Rugby Championship, they were +2500 underdogs—odds that remained, even after they beat Australia to top the table after two rounds.
Still now, they are +900 underdogs.
The Rugby Championship as it Stands
With round three of the Rugby Championship marking the halfway point of the tournament, here’s how the standings are looking right now:
- Argentina (9 points)
- Australia (9 points)
- New Zealand (5 points)
- South Africa (4 points)
Almost the exact inverse of what bookmakers were saying pre-tournament, it’s certainly a surprise to see Argentina sitting atop the tree at this halfway mark.
However, it’s no fluke—Argentina are on nine points, having secured a bonus point win over Australia, and a tight victory over New Zealand, after dropping their opening match to Australia at home.
Australia also sit on nine points, but with a weaker points differential courtesy of their heavy loss to the Pumas last week. Wins over Argentina rugby in round one and South Africa last week, however, have them well placed, with a 2-1 record in the Rugby Championship so far.
The tournament’s two forces, New Zealand and South Africa, languish at the bottom of the table. Having split the games between them, and then each losing to Argentina and Australia last round, the usual table toppers are adrift on five and four points respectively.
The question is, can Argentina hold on to their top of the table position for another three rounds?
How the Rest of the Rugby Championship is Likely to Unfold
Three games remain for all teams, and right now, it’s anyone’s tournament to win.
For Argentina rugby, usually, the path to victory from here would look pretty tough: An away game against the All Blacks, before two games against South Africa, first at home, then away.
However, with the Argentina rugby team beating the All Blacks at home last week, and South Africa dropping two of their first three games, this schedule is suddenly looking a little less intimidating.
The reality is, Argentina don’t need to win all of their remaining games. They might not even need to win two.
Here’s a look at how the rest of the Rugby Championship is likely to pan out:
- Argentina lose a close match to New Zealand this week, get up for a big home game to beat South Africa the next round, then end on a close defeat to South Africa in mid-September.
- South Africa bounce back against Australia this week, lose to Argentina on the road, then round out their tournament with a home win against Argentina.
- Australia lose to South Africa at home this week, beat New Zealand in Melbourne a few weeks later, then drop their final match against the All Blacks in Eden Park.
- New Zealand return to form against Argentina this coming weekend, lose to Australia on the road next round, then complete their tournament by beating Australia in front of a home crowd in Auckland.
None of the above scenarios sound particularly unrealistic, right?
Argentina’s Path to Victory
And yet the result, is a thing of fantasy.
If the above scenarios unfold in this way, here’s what the final standings of the Rugby Championship will look like after Round Six:
- Argentina (15 points)
- New Zealand (14 points)
- Australia (13 points)
- South Africa (13 points)
Bottom line is: Unless one of New Zealand or South Africa completely turn around their tournament and win three on the bounce, or Australia pull off the unthinkable and beat the All Blacks twice, the Rugby Championship is going to end with the Argentina rugby teams’ hands on the trophy.
Get your Rashuns out, because this is going to be an enthralling next month of rugby.
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