Rugby Championship focus: New Zealand

With the 2022 Rugby Championship now upon us we take a look at the form of the four teams involved, with the focus here on the All Blacks.

What they did in July Tests

All Blacks coach Ian Foster is under immense pressure to very quickly reverse the poor results that saw New Zealand set all sorts of unwanted landmarks in going down 2-1 to Ireland.

They were Ireland’s first ever wins in New Zealand, it was the first time they had suffered consecutive defeats at home since 1998, and they became only the third All Blacks team to lose a three-Test series at home.

Losing four of their last five Tests has seen New Zealand drop to fourth in the world rankings, their lowest ever place since the rankings began.

The All Blacks romped to a 42-19 win in the first Test at Fortress Eden Park, but the score was inflated by their ability to take their chances better than Ireland did, and 42% possession and 40% territory were warning signs.

A determined defensive effort by Ireland enabled them to win the second Test 23-12 in Dunedin, and the speed and intricacy of their attacking play, as well as monumental defence, saw them beat the All Blacks 32-22 in the decider in Wellington.

What they did in 2021 Rugby Championship

The All Blacks showed no hint of their waning fortunes in the 2021 Rugby Championship, winning five out of their six matches to claim the title with a seven-point lead in the final standings over Australia.

New Zealand had already clinched the crown with a game to spare as they beat the Springboks 19-17 in Townsville, the 100th Test between the two great rivals.

The All Blacks’ only defeat came in the last game as the Springboks rebounded to beat them 31-29 with the last kick of the match, the following weekend.

The campaign started on a high for New Zealand as they hammered Australia 57-22 at Eden Park, retaining the Bledisloe Cup and notching the most points they have ever scored over the Wallabies.

Australia were stiffer opponents in the next match, going down 21-38 as the All Blacks’ discipline faltered with a red card. They were also disrupted by a couple of key injuries, but two intercept tries sealed the win.

New Zealand used a lot of fringe players in their two Tests against Argentina, but saw the Pumas off comfortably – 39-0 on the Gold Coast and 36-13 in Brisbane.

Rugby Championship 2022 Fixtures

August 6: Mbombela, v South Africa

August 13: Johannesburg, v South Africa

August 27: Christchurch, v Argentina

September 3: Hamilton, v Argentina

September 15: Melbourne, v Australia

September 24: Auckland, v Australia