The Rugby Championship returns this weekend with Argentina sitting pretty at the top of the table thanks to a crushing win over Australia in San Juan in the last round.
This weekend presents an altogether different challenge for Michael Cheika’s Pumas, however, as they prepare the first of two back-to-back Tests against the All Blacks in New Zealand.
The struggling Wallabies – whose coach Dave Rennie described as simply “not good enough” after the loss in Argentina – host world champions South Africa in Adelaide, with both teams looking to bounce back from second-round losses. The Springboks were beaten comfortably by New Zealand in Johannesburg, a result which has saved the job of All Blacks head coach Ian Foster, until the World Cup in France next year.
How to watch the matches on TV
(All times BST)
- New Zealand v Argentina (FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton) 8.05am on Saturday, September 3 – Sky Sports
- Australia vs South Africa (Allianz Stadium, Sydney) 10.35am on Saturday, September 3 – Sky Sports
- Australia vs New Zealand (Marvel Stadium, Melbourne) 10.45am on Thursday, September 15 – Sky Sports
- Argentina vs South Africa (Estadio Jose Amalfitani, Buenos Aires) 8.10pm on Saturday, September 17 – Sky Sports
- New Zealand vs Australia (Eden Park, Auckland) 8.05am on Saturday, September 24 – Sky Sports
- South Africa vs Argentina (Hollywoodbets Kings Park, Durban) 4.05pm on Saturday, September 24 – Sky Sports
What is the latest news?
Ian Foster says the “weight is off” the shoulders of the All Blacks as they head into a Rugby Championship Test against Argentina on Saturday with him confirmed as head coach for another year.
The board of New Zealand Rugby last week gave Foster its full endorsement, confirming he will coach the team through next year’s World Cup in France. The decision was announced despite a run of two wins in seven tests for the All Blacks.
A win over the World Cup champion Springboks in Johannesburg and the support of his players likely saved Foster’s job.
Despite his confidence that the coaching issue is now behind the All Blacks, a loss to Argentina at Christchurch this weekend or at any stage of the Rugby Championship likely would revive the question of Foster’s future among fans.
Immediately after NZR’s expressed support for the head coach who has only a 65 per cent win rate, an informal poll on a New Zealand media website showed 81 per cent of respondents believed Foster should have been fired.
Foster said the match against Argentina’s Pumas, who are coming off a 48-17 win over Australia, is just “another test.”
“I’m not sure what we’re talking about with the weight off the shoulders,” he told reporters on Monday. “There’s always plenty of tenseness and pressure around playing for the All Blacks but it’s learning how to deal with that. It comes in different forms and shapes _ sometimes it’s geared at people, sometimes it’s geared at performance.
“We know one win doesn’t mean a lot. We want to keep growing and climbing through this year.”
When is the final round?
The final round is on Saturday 24 September. New Zealand host Australia in Auckland, while Argentina travel to Durban to face South Africa.
Last year New Zealand had already wrapped up the Rugby Championship before the final round, after beating South Africa 19-17 in the penultimate round. However, the Springboks would beat the All Blacks 31-29 a week later to end their campaign on a high.