Rugby Championship: Five things to know

Rugby Championship: Five things to know

Argentine Emiliano Boffelli (R) prepares to kick a penalty against New Zealand in Christchurch on August 27, 2022, with teammate Marcos Kremer watching.
Argentine Emiliano Boffelli (R) prepares to kick a penalty against New Zealand in Christchurch on August 27, 2022, with teammate Marcos Kremer watching.. Photo: Marty MELVILLE / AFP
Source: AFP

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The second half of the six-round 2022 Rugby Championship begins on Saturday with perennial strugglers Argentina topping the table and world champions South Africa last.

A shock-riddled tournament has seen the Pumas concede 41 points to Australia one week and score 48 against them seven days later.

The Springboks are not the only team on the back foot with third-placed New Zealand losing at home to Argentina for the first time.

Here, AFP Sport lists five things to know before New Zealand and Australia have home advantage for the second week in a row against Argentina and South Africa respectively.

Brilliant Boffelli

Argentina wing Emiliano Boffelli is the leading points scorer with 54 from a try, and eight conversions and 11 penalties from 22 shots at goals.

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But the 27-year-old, who plays for Edinburgh, would not have taken most of those kicks had fly-half Nicolas Sanchez not missed the 2022 edition due to injury.

When both are in the team, Sanchez takes the short and medium-range shots at goal and Boffelli only the long-range attempts.

Hamilton boost

Struggling New Zealand, who have lost six of their last eight matches, hope to continue a perfect record against Argentina in the north island city of Hamilton.

The All Blacks have hosted the Pumas four times there and won by margins ranging from a high of 52 points in 1997 to 15 in 2013.

A stunning seven-point triumph for Argentina in Christchurch last weekend ended a run of 15 consecutive losses to the All Blacks in New Zealand.

Try-scoring forwards

Forwards are leading the way when it comes to tries this season with two flankers, Argentine Juan Martin Gonzalez and Australian Fraser McReight, topping the charts with three each.

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Among the foursome who have scored two are South Africa flanker Kwagga Smith, New Zealand hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho and Argentina prop Thomas Gallo.

The lone back to have claimed two tries during the first three rounds is Australia centre Len Ikitua.

Sydney struggles

South Africa, extremely flattered to lose by only eight points to Australia in Adelaide last Saturday, face the Wallabies in Sydney, a city where they have a disastrous recent record.

The Springboks won six of the first seven matches in the eastern city against Australia, but from 1993 have suffered seven straight defeats, including defeats by 20 and 19 points.

South Africa have not won anywhere in Australia since 2013, leading 2007 Springbok World Cup-winning fly-half Butch James to say "the Wallabies are very street wise when they host us".

Realist Nienaber

South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber is under fire after successive losses, at home to New Zealand and away to Australia, leaving him with an overall record of 11 wins and eight defeats.

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"All national coaches are potentially two poor games away from being fired. That is the reality and one lives with that," admits the 49-year-old former specialist in defence tactics.

But it is All Blacks coach Ian Foster who is under the most severe pressure with the three-time world champions winning just two of their last eight Tests.

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Source: AFP

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