The Rugby Championship : All Blacks 39 – 18 Argentina – Thoughts?

The All Blacks have beaten the Argentina Pumas 39-18 in the opening Rugby Championship match in Christchurch.  The All Blacks were set on redemption following a patchy performance in Manu Samoa a week ago and scored a four try bonus point early in the second half.  This was Argentina’s first game of the year, and it took them sixty minutes to get into this game.

The All Blacks offloading game caused damage with the likes of Kieran Read, Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu lethal on attack.  They were hungry with aggressive defence causing problems for the visitors, while the All Blacks took the Pumas on at scrum time and breakdowns disrupting their ball, especially putting pressure on the Pumas deep in their own territory.  The Pumas also struggled for possession at the restarts too.

Richie McCaw scored a well taken first half try from a lineout, while the tired Pumas conceded tries just before and after halftime to Ma’a Nonu and Charles Piutau.  The All Blacks sealed the game with an opportunistic try to Kieran Read to put the game beyond doubt barely into the second half and secure a bonus point.

The All Blacks were more finely tuned and played the game at a fast pace.  There was less aimless kicking from both teams. Continue reading The Rugby Championship : All Blacks 39 – 18 Argentina – Thoughts?

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The Rugby Championship 2015 Round 1 Preview

The Rugby Championship is here with the Southern Hemisphere giants going at it for three action packed rounds. In all honesty, it is hard to know what to make of the Rugby Championship 2015, given that the focus for all teams is the Rugby World Cup. This means that we should expect to see some testing of new combinations and fresh faces included in teams to see if they sink or swim, while there will be a fine line between blooding players and resting them.

Australia and South Africa both host two games each, while Argentina and New Zealand host one game only. New Zealand hosts Argentina this weekend. All is not lost for teams that got a bad draw, when you consider that the only time the All Blacks didn’t win a Rugby Championship in Rugby World Cup year, they won the Rugby World Cup instead.

Interestingly, most fans and teams know not to read too much into this condensed version of the Rugby Championship, but there are such high expectations on the All Blacks for example, that they will have to be careful to tread that fine line between winning and experimenting. This competition will be fast paced with only three matches for each team, so one defeat could be all it takes to eliminate a team from winning the championship. No team has ever won both The Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup in the same calendar year. Continue reading The Rugby Championship 2015 Round 1 Preview

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The Rugby Championship 2015 Preview

The Rugby Championship starts this weekend with a condensed version in order to fit it into the hectic schedule of 2015 before the Rugby World Cup, but who will win the Rugby Championship 2015?  You can’t help but think that The Rugby Championship is simply an appetizer, to the Rugby World Cup.

We can expect to see plenty of revamped squads as the results of the Rugby Championship become secondary to the Rugby World Cup preparation as teams look to rest some players, while getting others into some much needed form.

This has started already with some of the players named for the All Blacks to play Argentina, not being the best available.  Stars like Aaron Smith, Ben Smith, Conrad Smith, Julian Savea, Sam Whitelock and Dane Coles are all missing from the All Blacks squad.  They are given rests after their hectic Super Rugby seasons, while their places are taken by players who need valuable gametime to regain form like Israel Dagg, Keven Mealamu and Tony Woodcock.

Expect plenty of this from the other teams too.  Interestingly, no team has won The Rugby Championship and Rugby World Cup double in the same year.  This record sits poorly with the All Blacks especially, given their dominant record in the tournament, yet the one Rugby World Cup year they didn’t win the Rugby Championship, they won the Rugby World Cup instead.

Continue reading The Rugby Championship 2015 Preview

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