- By Kevin McCarthy
Considering where they were a month or so ago, the All Blacks could almost consider part two of the international season a success if they win the Rugby Championship.
Whether others will depends largely on what you thought, oh, about a month ago.
Remove the historic Argentinian victory on New Zealand soil, and New Zealand would already be champions. On the other side of the ledger, the 53-3 revenge a week later gives the home side a for/against buffer going into the final round.
The All Blacks have a slight luxury – they can win without a bonus point, and still possibly get through on the PF/PA edge they hold against South Africa. Note that the first way of deciding two teams that tie is by number of wins, but both have three.
Should for some reason the PF/PA against the whole series be tied up as well, then South Africa would take the title as they have scored a few more points than the All Blacks against their respective tests against each other.
And if that doesn’t separate them, it’s based on who scored the most tries across the series, in which the All Blacks hold a good advantage.
That’s anyway how I read the rules.
I suspect should the All Blacks eke out a narrow win at Eden Park over Australia then in fact the PF/PA won’t necessarily come into play – as South Africa would have to overwhelm Argentina by such a margin in Durban that they’d likely pick up a bonus point win in doing so.
I should point out that neither of the Australians nor the Argentinians are technically out of contention for the title. But you wouldn’t wager the house on them, would you. Australia, anyway, has sealed up the prolonged whinging title for the season.
Did you notice Wellington won the Shield? The team certainly did, which is kind of nice in that they are paying it the respect it so deserves.
Whether that will translate into a long tenure we’ll see on Saturday afternoon against Waikato. They are going well, and love a shield tilt, but the log of wood also puts a lot of spine into the defenders.
There’s always a bit of bittersweet with the Shield. Something with so much history should see a packed stadium watching two top provincial sides going head to head.
Yet we know it won’t. So be happy and get to the stadium if you can. Rugby championships come and go, but eventually the Shield goes – and sometimes for a very long time.