The Springboks need to win the Rugby Championship if they are to prove they are serious about retaining their title at next year’s World Cup in France.
It has been a frustratingly inconsistent season to date for the Boks, with them having won four and lost three games so far, when they would have been expected to have won at least five or six games, due to them being favourites for most of them.
However they have a chance now to stamp their authority in the closing stages of the Rugby Championship if they can pick up two big wins over Argentina in Buenos Aires and in Durban.
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Unfortunately the Rugby Championship is not in their hands, as the All Blacks sit five points ahead of them on the log and if they can claim a bonus point win in their next final game against the Wallabies, they will be favourites to retain their title.
But the All Blacks have struggled under Ian Foster’s reign, and are no longer viewed as the juggernaut they once were.
With the Wallabies having just missed out on beating them thanks to a terrible refereeing decision in their penultimate game on Thursday, it will be very interesting to see how the final match goes between them next weekend.
So the Boks do still have a chance to triumph in the competition, but will need to dispatch the Pumas with bonus points in their last two games.
Not to be underestimated
The Pumas aren’t a team to be underestimated, especially at home and have picked up some big scalps this season, including a home series win over Scotland, a big 48-17 home win over the Wallabies and an upset 25-18 win over the All Blacks in New Zealand.
But they have also shown their frailties with three big defeats, two of which came at home, 29-6 against Scotland and 41-26 against Australia, while their last match was a 53-3 hammering by the All Blacks.
The Boks will need to take note of the weaknesses in the Argentinean game during those losses and try and build their game plan around exploiting them, although it is hard to see the team straying too far from their kicking based plan, which they will need to execute to perfection.
Last year the Boks inconsistent form could be explained due to the struggles of not having a proper build up to the international season and the difficulties of being on the road a lot and enduring difficult Covid restrictions.
However this year that has not been the case and the team has just not performed at a high enough level in some of their games, but they can change that with a strong finish to the Rugby Championship.
If they can pick up the two wins needed to challenge for the title, whether they win it or not, they will at least be able to build on that going into what is set to be a tough end of year tour in November.