The 2015 Rugby Championship will officially get underway this weekend, and will see the Southern Hemisphere’s four standout nations battle it out on both sides of the Tasman.
New Zealand remain clear favourites to enter the World Cup off the back of success in the 2015 Rugby Championship and begin their campaign at home against Argentina on Friday, while Australia and South Africa contest what is sure to be a thrilling affair in Brisbane on Saturday night.
We’re offering the best odds on the widest range of markets for both first-up matches in the 2015 Rugby Championship!
New Zealand vs Argentina
July 17th – AMI Stadium, Christchurch – 5:35pm AEST
The world’s best team, New Zealand are current Rugby Championship, Bledisloe and World Champions and begin their first title defence at the small AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Friday.
The All Blacks played an historic test in Samoa last week, and while sneaking away with an unconvincing 25-16 win, were without 17 players from the Highlanders and Hurricanes teams which contested the Super Rugby final.
Coach Steve Hansen will begin funnelling players from those squads into the national side from Friday but has also revealed this week he will allow some key players an extra week off.
Argentina have continued to improve since being integrated into the premier Southern Hemisphere competition; managing several competitive results in 2014 and delivering Australia a defeat most notably.
Coach Daniel Hourcade has named and 28-man squad for his nation’s trip to New Zealand, but it would appear he is largely focused on the Pumas’ World Cup campaign; electing to rest several key players including Toulon fullback Juan Martin Hernandez.
New Zealand has not lost at home since 2009 and have never lost to Argentina. While far from polished in Samoa last week, the All Blacks are without doubt the class outfit in this match and should barely be troubled by the Pumas.
Australia vs South Africa
July 18th – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane – 8:05pm AEST
Continually trading position as the world’s second-highest rated team for the better part of a decade, Australia and South Africa look horns in what is sure to be a typically spiteful match on Saturday night.
The selection criteria for the Wallabies has changed since their last match and Coach Michael Cheika has wasted no time in recalling the likes of France-based Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell to bolster his side.
Having previously been offered little choice in key positions, Cheika faces several tough decisions on who to select for Australia’s opening Rugby Championship match at home; namely Michael Hooper vs David Pocock, Matt Toomua vs Matt Giteau and Nick Phipps vs Will Genia.
Australia are known to slip up during the Rugby Championship and will do everything in their power to begin the 2015 campaign in the best way possible.
South Africa were unlucky not to win the Rugby Championship in 2014; ending the All Blacks run of 22-straight wins at home before finishing on the wrong side of a narrow 14-10 score line in Wellington.
Coach Heyneke Meyer has confirmed former captain Jean de Villiers will be rested from the match following a strong return from injury against a World XV last weekend, allowing for exciting centre Jesse Kriel to take his place in the start fifteen. Veteran Victor Matfield has been handed the captaincy.
Realistically this match could fall either way, particularly in the first week of the 2015 Rugby Championship.
Both Australia and South Africa look likely to trial a mix of seasoned talent and exciting, up-and-coming prospects, and whoever gels better will likely take this match.
Both teams offer great value for money in head-to-head markets but we’re leaning towards Australia to win at home, in a nail-biter.