The international rugby season is here, and it’s about time!! Top class international rugby from the best players in each country… mouth-watering! I will be focusing here on the Rugby Championship (RC) and keeping an eye on the Bokke during the build-up towards the Rugby World Cup (RWC) later this year. Here are my thoughts on the upcoming matches in round 1 of the RC, and for the fun of it I will give my match predictions as well.
New Zealand vs. Argentina (Christchurch – Friday, 17 July, 9:35 local time)
The All Blacks hosting Los Pumas. Yeah… good luck Argentina, you are going to need it! Who really expects Los Pumas to pull an upset? No One! The All Blacks have never lost against Argentina, and they have been the most consistent rugby team in the modern era when it comes to winning matches. But then again, this is a world cup year and the real goal is lifting the RWC Trophy at the end of October. This game is about the All Blacks making a massive statement that they mean business, especially after their embarrassing victory over Samoa last week. However, Los Pumas have the ability to surprise anyone, and I sure hope they can pull one out of the hat… even better if they do so at the RWC! I would shed a tear of joy to see that happen.
Waisake Naholo (NZ) – The rookie everyone is expecting big things from. He was sensational during the Super Rugby season, but whether he keeps that form at the highest level remains to be seen.
Israel Dagg (NZ) – I really wonder if he can show anything at all to make him a favorite for the number 15 jersey. Ben Smith is top dog in my opinion, so the pressure is on Dagg to prove he is on par for the RWC selection.
Manuel Carizza (Arg) – Will the Super Rugby experience make a difference in disrupting the All Black lineout?
Prediction: NZ by 17
Australia vs. South Africa (Brisbane – Saturday, 18 July, 12:05 local time)
Now this is where the real contest is! I really do not like the Aussies… and I’m expecting the Bokke to start the Saturday here in SA well for us all. But my word, the Aussie team selection is solid and after their dismal season last year they must be desperate to start their season with a win over the Bokke. I really hope the Bokke can play the type of rugby they displayed last week, because let’s be honest, some of our players are currently out of form and yet they are still selected. I believe we (the Bokke) can be much better! Four years for Meyer to bring in young and talented players for the RWC… and what is there to show for it? Just about nothing! Injuries have forced the inclusion of new players, but now there limited time to settle them before the RWC. Hopefully the youngsters can convince the team selectors to leave the old age home alone. Let’s go Bokke!!!
Matt Giteau (Aus) – I never thought I would see him run out for the Aussies again. He could make a massive difference in the midfield.
Michael Hooper (Aus) – This guy must be a robot. His work rate is insane! He is bound to frustrate the Bokke at the breakdown.
The Youngsters (RSA) – Damien de Allende and Jesse Kriel will have their first real midfield contest this weekend. They were brilliant against the World XV and I’m hoping to see that magic again!
Jannie du Plessis (RSA) – His stupidity on the field is bound to make it’s presence known.
Prediction: SA by 7
Image credits: Supersport