World Cup-winning coach Jake White has weighed in on South African Rugby’s decision not to send the Springboks abroad for the 2020 edition of the Rugby Championship.
While the Boks will remain part of the tournament in the future, they have chosen not to compete this year in the wake of a severe lack of game time during the South African winter.
Having watched the Wallabies and All Blacks contest a fierce series of fixtures during the Bledisloe Cup recently, White is confident the right decision has been made.
“I saw the standard of the rugby between Australia and New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup series, it would have been unfair for us as world champions and Rugby Championship winners to have been exposed to that quality and intensity without proper preparation,” White was quoted as saying by TheXV.rugby.
“As the number one team in the world, there is a target on us. If New Zealand and Australia had been in our position, they would have done the same. The top tennis players and top golfers will not enter a Major without proper preparations.
“After seven months of no rugby, to expect a group of players to just assemble is unrealistic. And no coach-captain combination would relish that scenario.”
High hopes for Australia
With South Africa absent, the competition effectively reverts to being the Tri-Nations, which it was before Argentina joined several years ago.
Australia, New Zealand and Argentina play for ostensibly the most coveted prize in Southern Hemisphere rugby – much like what the Six Nations is to the Northern Hemisphere.
Australia will host the entire tournament. With home ground advantage and on the back of a closing – albeit consolation – victory in the recent Bledisloe Cup, their chances of winning the tournament have improved. The hosts are priced at 15/2 to beat the New Zealanders in the tournament opener on new betting sites in Australia such as Unibet. Even a draw at 39/1 could set them on course for the title.
Australia’s tournament record
Australia last won the tournament in its Rugby Championship guise in 2015. That is their only Rugby Championship title, so a second one this time would come in handy.
Before that, they won the Tri-Nations version of the tournament in 2000, 2001 and 2011. The 2011 title triumph was the last time the Tri-Nations was staged before becoming the Rugby Championship.
No Swinton for Wallabies
They’re going to have to go at it without Lachlan Swinton for a while. He has been hit with a four-week suspension for a dangerously high tackle on Sam Whitelock during the Bledisloe Cup.
“Swinton has been suspended from all forms of the game for four weeks, up to and including Saturday 6 February 2021,” read a statement from SANZAAR.
“Having conducted a detailed review of all the available evidence, including all camera angles and additional evidence, including submissions from his legal representative, Maryjane Crabtree, the Foul Play Review Committee upheld the red card under Law 9.13.
“With respect to sanction the Foul Play Review Committee deemed the act of foul play merited a mid-range entry point of 6 weeks due to the World Rugby instructions that dictate any incident of foul play involving contact with the head must start at a mid-range level.”
Tournament venues and referees
The Bankwest Stadium in Sydney and McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle will be the host venue for the 2020 Tri-Nations. The referees will be Nic Berry and Angus Gardner of Australia and Paul Williams and Ben O’Keeffe of New Zealand.
Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aotearoa made for some tremendous domestic rugby viewing earlier this year. While fans won’t be able to watch Super Rugby Unlocked stars at the international level this year, the Tri-Nations should be a spectacle regardless.