One of the great rugby tournaments starts again soon, as the third ever Rugby Championship gets underway next week. The competition has only been around officially since 2012 following the acceptance of Argentina into the Tri-Nations series, that featured three powerhouses of world rugby in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
This trio had been battling it out since 1996 and it was the All Blacks that were the undisputed champions of the competition, claiming as they did ten of the 16 titles. The Wallabies and the Springboks shared the other six titles equally and it was the Australians who claimed the last title before the expanded series began two years ago.
However, since Argentina were added to the mix the domination of the series has returned to New Zealand as they have won all 12 matches they have played against the other three teams in the past two tournaments. Will they make it three in a row this year?
The 2014 Rugby Championship betting odds are as follows and you can get betting at William Hill online on this year’s winner right now!
2014 Rugby Championship Outright Winner:
New Zealand to win – 1.53
South Africa to win – 3.25
Australia to win – 7.00
Argentina to win – 251.00
New Zealand: The All Blacks come into this tournament as the massive odds on favourites to triumph for a third year in a row, and as the side sitting comfortably ahead of the rest at the top team in the IRB World Rankings. On top of this, they come into the tournament having gone through all of 2013 and the first seven months of 2014 without losing a match, including beating England three times on home soil this June. They have pace, power and more ability than they know what to do with, and with an 18-month winning streak backing them up they will believe that a third straight Rugby Championship title is theirs for the taking.
South Africa: Sitting second in the world, the Springboks come into the 2014 Rugby Championship as the second favourites. They are unbeaten since suffering a 38-27 home loss to New Zealand last year, but in the six matches they have played since, they have been heavy favourites. However, they can consider themselves lucky to have beaten Wales in Nelspruit this June, as only a late try and conversion saw them edge the Welsh 31-30. The other game saw a 19-10 beating of France in Paris but after struggling to put away Wales on home soil how will they fare against the All Blacks?
Australia: The world number three side have not had the best of times since the introduction of Argentina to this series as their record reads five wins and seven defeats across the last two seasons. When you consider that four of those victories came against the South American side, the recent history of the Wallabies in this competition does not make for pleasant viewing. They do, however, bring a seven game winning run into the 2014 Rugby Championship, their last loss against England in November. However, none of those wins came against anyone inside the top four in the world so will this tournament be another write-off for the Wallabies, or can they cause a shock or two in the race for the 2014 title?
Argentina: The Pumas are currently 12th in the IRB World Rankings and they are, as in the last two competitions, rank outsiders to claim the title. Their two year record reads as 12 matches played, no games won, 11 defeats and one draw. That draw came in 2012 as they held South Africa in Mendoza and last year they came within a point of getting something in Perth against Australia as they rallied late on only to fall just short in a 14-13 home win. This year will be another year of learning their trade at the highest level and perhaps snatching a point, or that elusive first win, but realistically they are looking at the wooden spoon for finishing bottom once again.
Predictions: Taking into account last year’s results and the form of the respective sides since then, it is tough to see this tournament playing out differently to how the odds above suggest. New Zealand are clear favourites, while Australia and Argentina will likely bring up the rear. If the All Blacks have an off day and South Africa play a perfect game, we could see some close matches between the two favourites. However, taking consistency into account it’s difficult to see past another New Zealand triumph so get betting at William Hill online before their price becomes even shorter.