Explainer: How the Boks can retain Rugby Championship

Following the loss to Australia, the Springboks face a difficult challenge to defend the Rugby Championship title they won in 2019. SARugbymag.co.za looks at how they can emulate the 2009 team and win the southern-hemisphere tournament after a successful series against the British & Irish Lions.

The loss to the Wallabies this past Sunday left the Boks five points adrift of the table-topping All Blacks as Ian Foster’s side further cemented their place with a bonus-point victory over Argentina.

Jacques Nienaber’s team will be eager to bounce back this Saturday in the second Test against Australia, and will also be hoping that Argentina pull off a win over New Zealand.

Given that Argentina have beaten New Zealand only once in 32 Tests, it is highly unlikely that the in-form All Blacks will drop points against Los Pumas.

That makes it all the more important for the Springboks to end their hoodoo in Australia this weekend – another loss could leave them between nine and 10 points off the top of the table going into their double-header against the All Blacks.

In that event, the Springboks would need to do something they have not done since 1937 and beat New Zealand in two successive away games.

This group of players has had a fairly positive record against the All Blacks away from home, memorably claiming a 36-34 victory in Wellington in 2018 and following that up with a 16-16 draw at the same venue in 2019.

Plus, this is not the first time this Springbok team has been backs to the wall. Just eight weeks ago, they faced having to win two successive Tests against the best from the UK and Ireland to claim the Lions series.

“We have three big matches coming up, and if we win them all we can still defend our Rugby Championship title, so we’ll continue to work hard on the field to achieve that,” Nienaber said.

Should the Springboks beat the Wallabies and the All Blacks beat Argentina this Saturday – both without a bonus point – that would keep the five-point gap between New Zealand and South Africa going into the next two games.

The Springboks could reduce that to four points with a bonus-point win over Australia at Suncorp Stadium, if the All Blacks don’t run rampant against the Pumas.

But if Argentina do pull off an upset win against the All Blacks, and the Boks bounce back against the Wallabies, that would potentially bring the world champions within a couple of points of the current log leaders.

Photo: EPA/Jan Touzeau

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Dylan Jack