The Springboks should enter the 2017 Rugby Championship with modest optimism. They have improved a great deal since last year’s disastrous season

The Springboks should enter the 2017 Rugby Championship with modest optimism. They have improved a great deal since last year’s disastrous season. They claimed a 3-0 series victory over a weakened French side in June, and the bulk of their squad is made up of Lions players that went to a second successive Super Rugby final.

In the Rugby Championship last year they won two of their six Tests. They suffered two massive losses against the All Blacks and a first-ever defeat to Argentina. Later in the year they lost to England, suffered a first-ever loss against Italy and finished with a loss against Wales. Defence was a major issue, as well as organisation and tactics on attack.

2017 has seen the Springboks get off to a fantastic start. They beat a weak and unprepared French side 3-0. Defensive organisation was improved dramatically. In attack, the resurgence of our forward pack’s efforts in cleaning out rucks and securing clean ball has allowed the half back combination of Cronje/Jantjies to flourish. This combined with set plays brought in by coach Smith should give a talented backline far more of a chance to make an impact against any side in this year’s Rugby Championship.
The Springboks should aim to win both Test against Argentina, win their home games against Australia and compete with them away from home.

Since Argentina’s introduction into the tournament in 2012, they’ve not finished better than fourth spot except in the shortened format of 2015. That will be something they will hope to change despite struggling to make progress with their Test-filled Super Rugby side, the Jaguares.

They have the players to hurt any side but it’s consistency in showings and the nerve to hold out for wins that’s where they must improve.

The gained just one victory in 2016 which came against South Africa in Round 2 when they ran out 26-24 winners. However then came four successive losses to New Zealand and Australia as a promising tournament start was not built upon.

There’s little to suggest from the Jaguares’ recent exploits in Super Rugby that a first Rugby Championship title is in the offing for Argentina. Just seven wins from 15 matches this season.
They boast a strong set-piece with Agustín Creevy at the forefront while the locks, back-row and half-backs are also solid. On paper their squad is capable of squeezing a win against any side on their day, but there is a worrying pattern developing with the Pumas in the Rugby Championship as bright showings aren’t closed out.

Outright odds here are South Africa 1/8, Argentina 6/1 and +15on the handicap at 10/11. South Africa should win comfortably and the 13/5 Ladbrokes and Coral offer about an 11-20 point victory by the hosts is attractive.