South Africa: What the Competition Tells Us About Rugby World Cup Preparations

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South Africa won their first Rugby Championship title on Saturday with a 46-13 win over Argentina. A tremendous achievement, but in a Rugby World Cup year, one can't help feel that it takes second preference to lifting the Webb Ellis Cup. Nevertheless, this tournament showed us that South Africa are real contenders for the grand prize. New Zealand should, however, not be counted out and Australia are among the dark horses.

South Africa

The Springboks put in three impressive performances to win the Rugby Championship, crucially showing strength in character and depth.

Rassie Erasmus took a gamble by sending several key players to New Zealand ahead of time, leaving an inexperienced side to host Australia. However, it paid off as the Springboks beat the Wallabies 35-17 and came away with a 16-16 draw against New Zealand.

Then came arguably the most assured performance of them all in a 46-13 away drubbing of Argentina. The Springbok forwards bullied Los Pumas and Handré Pollard had a superb game from flyhalf. Makazole Mapimpi also had a great game having faced criticism -- much of it harsh -- for his performance against New Zealand.

It all could have been so different, as Argentina took...

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