Rugby Championship

Boks need to return to 2019 style

The All Blacks are favourites going into their penultimate match of the competition in Townsville and will lift the 2021 title if they get a bonus-point against the battered and bruised Springboks, who are coming off demoralising back-to-back losses to Australia.

Certainly in the second of those defeats, by 30-17 in Brisbane on Saturday, they moved away from their tactical kicking game, but committed an unusually high number of errors and looked flustered at times.

Wallabies climb rankings: 'We definitely weren't seventh or eighth'

The former Wallabies centre watched alongside nearly 40,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday evening, marvelling as Australia again overpowered the Springboks in a 30-17 Rugby Championship win.

It backed up their 28-26 victory on the Gold Coast six days earlier and saw Wallabies jump two more spots to No.3 in the world after starting last week in seventh.

The back-to-back wins are the first for the side since 2019 and under new coach Dave Rennie, coming after a comprehensive trio of losses to New Zealand.

All Blacks beat Argentina to go top of world rankings

The bonus-point victory in front of 38,000 at Lang Park extended their lead to 10 points over second-placed South Africa in the Rugby Championship table while ending Argentina and Australia's title hopes.

South Africa, beaten 30-17 by Australia in the first match of Saturday's double-header, will need to defeat the All Blacks twice and pile on the tries in their last two matches to earn bonus points to have any hope of stealing the silverware.

Wallabies set to make a change in the halves

The world champion Springboks will be seething after Quade Cooper’s long-range penalty after the siren sunk them in a 28-26 loss on Sunday.

They’ll meet again inside a week at Suncorp Stadium, where the Wallabies have won their last eight tests.

Nursing a shin injury, McDermott remained off after the break on Sunday and White made the most of his extra time on the park.

He kicked a 50-22 early in the second half and then forced the decisive penalty after Australia had turned over a scrum just seconds before fulltime.

Smith to miss Rugby Championship

Smith stayed in New Zealand to be with his family awaiting the birth of his second child.

He will join his Manawatu team this week to train and play in the NPC this season.

Smith said the increasing unlikelihood of getting an MIQ spot to return to New Zealand for the birth was the reason for staying in New Zealand.

His baby isn't due until November but he said he didn't want to risk not being here for the birth.

"The door isn't completely closed to me joining the team for the Northern Tour if our baby comes early.

Off-field stoush looms over final Bledisloe between All Blacks and Wallabies

The All Blacks had chosen not to travel to Perth due to the uncertainty surrounding the Rugby Championship, a decision Rugby Australia described as "unilateral", with boss Andy Marinos essentially accusing his New Zealand Rugby counterpart Mark Robinson of deceit.

"It's incredibly disappointing to be informed of this decision via the media, despite having a conversation with the CEO moments before and there no mention that this was the intention," Marinos said in a statement after NZ Rugby announced it would not travel for the August 28 fixture.

Rugby Championship double-headers to be held in Queensland

New Zealand and Australia are currently subject to lockdowns and the All Blacks cancelled two games last week including their Bledisloe Cup match in Perth.

But Queensland, largely free of coronavirus, has been deemed safe to host all four nations.

The new fixtures will be double-headers over four weekends from 12 September.

The Championship kicked off at Eden Park in New Zealand on 14 August, with the hosts thrashing the Wallabies 57-22.

Boks make 10 changes

Coach Jacques Nienaber says they do not mean to "disrespect" Argentina with the changes from the team that won the Lions series 2-1, but with five test matches on consecutive weekends, there is a concern over player welfare after the Springboks did not play for 20 months following their 2019 World Cup triumph.

Elton Jantjies has taken over at flyhalf, with the hero from Sunday's 19-16 win over the Lions, Morne Steyn, among the replacements. Cobus Reinach has retained his place at scrumhalf.

Perenara, Moody and Tu'ungafasi back for Rugby Championship

The trio missed the July tests against Fiji and Tonga, but have been included in coach Ian Foster's 36-man squad for the upcoming tournament.

Prop George Bower will remain with the squad as injury cover for Moody, who is not expected to return to Test rugby until after the Bledisloe Cup Series.

Hooker Samisoni Taukei'aho will also stay with the All Blacks squad as cover for Asafo Aumua who missed the two tests against Fiji. Aumua may also play the opening round of the NPC to build his match fitness.

'The Islands are the future': Fiji ready for expanded Rugby Championship

The Flying Fijians brought physicality, structure and tempo to the test and troubled the All Blacks for the best part of an hour. The side’s lack of preparation time as a squad leading up to the test seemingly did not show, as some nicely worked interchanges saw them rack up three tries in 60 minutes.

Considering some of the names missing from the Fijian squad for this two-test Steinlager Series with the All Blacks, head coach Vern Cotter will most likely be pleased with how his side represented themselves, both on and off the pitch on Saturday.