The Rugby Championship Is Back
The Rugby Championship returns this weekend. The annual tournament allows the biggest teams of the Southern Hemisphere (New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Argentina) to go head to head in one of the biggest and best displays of rugby in the sporting calendar.
Australia won the tournament last year, for the first time since Argentina were added to the Championship. Will they be able to hold onto the title against some of the best rugby playing nations in the world?
This will also be first time since the Rugby World Cup that some of these teams have played each other. It’s sure to be an explosive championship but below we’ve highlighted three reasons why the 2016 Rugby Championship is going to be particularly special.
1. The New All Blacks in their First Championship
While the All Blacks remain the number one rugby team in the world, this will be the first major tournament since the Rugby World Cup. After winning RWC for the 2nd time in a row, many All Blacks greats retired. So despite the insane amount of experience still remaining in the All Blacks team (822 Caps in the Starting 23), it feels like a new era for the world beaters.
The most notable absences from the 2015 Rugby Championship All Blacks team are of course Richie McCaw and Dan Carter. On the pitch and the more public facing side of the team his absence has led to a McCaw sized hole. With the 2016 Rugby Championship, there is now an opportunity for the new players to make a big impact on the team. Nathan Harris, Ardie Savea, Kane Hames and Liam Squire (all in the starting 23) have 6 caps between them. We can’t wait to see how they help shape the new All Blacks.
2. Australia Getting Back on Track
The current title holders of the Rugby Championship, Australia still have a lot to prove in this tournament. Can they bounce back from a 3-0 England whitewash at home? Can they retain the trophy? Can they win the Bledisloe for the first time in over 10 years and get revenge for the Rugby World Cup Final?
Wallabies coach, Michael Cheika, has stuck with the core of his Rugby World Cup final reaching squad with only a few additions and changes to the starting XV.
The devastating pairing of Michael Hooper and David Pocock is intact and the return of Giteau to the squad will hopefully result in better performances from the Wallabies than we saw earlier this summer.
3. South Africa’s First Rugby Championship Under New Leadership
The last time South Africa won this tournament was in 2009, before their first opponents this year, Argentina, were introduced to the Cup. Newly appointed coach, Allister Coetzee, will be looking to break that losing streak.
It’s one of the toughest Championships in rugby to win however given the competition. New Zealand have been so superior for so long, Coetzee will be looking to inspire his team that features a number of new players with a big win at home against Argentina.
After years of slightly underwhelming results, will the new leadership lift the Springboks back to being one of the most dominant rugby teams in the world. We’ll find out during this championship.
What are you excited for?
Will the exposure of Argentina players to Super Rugby make them bigger contenders? What player do you think will run in the most tries? Let us know in the comments or over on Twitter.
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