The Rugby Championship is arguably the best rugby competition in the world as the best four Southern Hemisphere nations play in this tournament, but it also is considered the best rugby competition because three of these nations are regarded as the top three best and most successful rugby nations in the world including the All-Blacks who have the highest winning percentage in the history of the sport and have won the most Rugby World Cups. New Zealand has won the most of any nation since the competition began in 2012 with five trophies (15 if including the Tri Nations era). With that in mind, let’s take a look at the participating nations:
Not only are they considered the best side in the world, they also might be the most complete as well. According to TheRoar.com.au, they have an incredible scrum unit, a lineout that is close to flawless, a strong defense, and the best counter attacking in the world. The only question mark is at flyhalf as some have questioned whether Beauden Barrett is the right man, but they do have depth at the position with Richie Mo’unga and Damian McKenzie. Other than that, this team boasts a lot of the best talent in the world with the likes of Kieran Read, Sonny Bill Williams, Ryan Crotty, Dane Coles, Owen Franks, and Brodie Retallick, and because of that they are the favorite to win this year’s competition. Their depth is incredible as it will be tough to beat that and the only worry about this side is whether they are healthy enough.
The Wallabies used to lay claim to being the second best in the world according to the rankings, but ever since the rise of Ireland, they have fallen in the rankings plus they have been struggling of late. That being said, there is still high hopes. Having one of the better attacks with a very talented backs corps, their forwards have been inconsistent as it seems their scrum has gotten better, but their lineout has been languishing. Plus their defense is suspect. The injuries of Tevita Kuridrani and Samu Kerevi will hurt a lot, but getting back David Pocock will be absolutely crucial. A big question mark will be who will replace Stephen Moore at hooker. We will find out soon, but with the talent of Michael Hooper, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau, and Bernard Foley, plus a chance to see Tom Banks play as the word is he is turning some heads especially with his speed. While the picture painted might not be optimistic, they could make a challenge at the trophy.
Another traditional power house nation that some have also regarded as the second best in the world and at one point the absolute best, the Springboks on paper have a very strong side. Their forward unit is one of the best in the world as their scrum and lineouts are incredible. While there is some question marks in the backs, they are very talented and should have no problem fighting for the trophy with New Zealand. The Springboks boasts stars on their roster such as Eben Etzebeth, Malcolm Marx, Tendai Mtawarira, Warren Whiteley, Willie le Roux, and Elton Janjies. Not having Lood de Jager playing will hurt, but they should have the depth to replace him. This could be a fun squad to watch.
The weakest of all four of these competitors, they have certainly shown progress in becoming a top rugby nation as they showed in 2015 how good they were with a semi-finals appearance in the World Cup. With all four of these teams in the semi-finals, it showed the quality in this tournament got even better when Argentina joined. Plus with getting a team to compete in the illustrious club rugby competition Super Rugby, the Jaguares, these players will have no problem facing off against the other three sides. The forwards are usually their best asset, but now that is a question mark and could be crucial just to see how they perform in this tournament. They do boast some talent like Bautista Delguy, Nicolas Sanchez, Agustin Creevy, Santiago Grondona, and Julian Montoya. They could make some noise in this tournament.
James Rowe: I firmly believe the All-Blacks are the best squad in this tournament and will take home the trophy easily. I actually think this tournament might be more predictable this time around than it has ever been and more so than this past edition of the Six Nations. However, I do think we will see a lot of competitive matches and we will see Argentina take a gigantic step forward.
How I think they will finish? 1. New Zealand 2. South Africa 3. Australia 4. Argentina