South Africans leapt for joy following the 73-13 Argentine annihilation at FNB Stadium two weekends ago. The Boks made it a 100% start to the 2013 Rugby Championship by beating Argentina away 22-17 on Saturday. Some may question the victory margin differences from week to week but truthfully the Pumas are not 60 points worse than South Africa. Despite the twin wins, I just cannot see the Boks winning the competition.
The all-powerful All Blacks have also started perfectly following two wins against Australia to retain the Bledisloe Cup yet again. With respect to Argentina, home and away wins against the Wallabies is a far tougher assignment as the South Africans are about to discover. Or actually, as they already know.
The Springboks have an appalling away record against Australia. Since the inception of the Tri-Nations in 1996, South Africa have won just three of 21 Tests*. Moreover the Boks have not beaten the Aussies in Brisbane** since 1971. History suggests Australia’s first win of the 2013 Rugby Championship is imminent.
South Africa have an equally dreadful record in New Zealand. In 19 Tests in the land of the Long White Cloud since 1996 the Springboks have beaten the All Blacks just thrice.
Now I don’t see the Pumas winning in Australasia either which means that by my crystal ball’s calculation after four matches New Zealand will be unbeaten, South Africa and Australia will be on two wins and two defeats, and Argentina will be winless and I really cannot see the antipodeans losing in South America bar an upset over the Australians perhaps.
So even if South Africa beat Australia and New Zealand at home it will not be enough. The Springboks have shown good form in 2013 and are capable of beating the All Blacks at fortress Ellis Park. But I just cannot see how the South Africans will win in Australasia.
The only way South Africa will win the Rugby Championship is if Australia beat New Zealand; once will be enough, or the Springboks have to go Down Under and start winning. Given the atrocious away results I do not know how Heyneke Meyer can turn the situation around.
This brings me to another point. In 2012 South Africa played Argentina home and away before travelling to Australasia. The Boks finished their campaign at home against the Aussies and Kiwis. If my calculations are accurate South Africa played one home game, before three away fixtures encompassing travel across several time zones either side of the planet. It is similarly taxing on Argentina. So why is the fixture list the same in 2013?
Why do the Boks and Pumas not start with two home games against the Australasians, then play each other before finishing Down Under? In a fair rotational system this scenario would materialise, would it not? Once more it seems to me the senior partner in SANZAR allows itself to be dictated to by the junior partners.
* Australia and South Africa played a Test match in Sydney in 2005 that was not a Tri-Nations fixture. The Wallabies won 30-12.
** Since returning from isolation Australia have beaten the Springboks eight times in Brisbane with an average score of 28-13 to the Wallabies.