So, despite all of the public outrage over the All Blacks’ struggles this season, they finished the Rugby Championship 2022 as the best team in the southern hemisphere, boosting their Rugby World Cup odds on betting sites in the process.
It simply came down to holding serve for their final three games, benefiting from a huge call at the end of the first Bledisloe Cup game, and then closing it out at their fortress of Eden Park.
The All Blacks haven’t lost at Eden Park since 1994, and have shown little sign of doing so in recent years.
The victory over the Wallabies in Bledisloe II presented the Springboks with an ultimately insurmountable challenge the following morning in Durban, as they needed a 39-point victory over the Pumas to claim The Rugby Championship, which the South Africans were unable to achieve.
What does this mean for each nation’s chances a year before the big one in France?
The best rugby betting sites have updated accordingly, but here’s a deeper dive into what the Rugby Championship told us:
All Blacks (Current World Ranking: Fourth)
The All Blacks surrendered their largest margin of victory to the Springboks in 94 years and then infamously lost a home test to the Pumas for the first time ever, but they came through when it mattered the most.
Okay, it was against a Wallabies team that has some serious structural issues as well as a mental barrier about playing in New Zealand, but the task was set for the All Blacks, and they accomplished it.
At one point, the game at Eden Park appeared to be a record win over the Wallabies, a record that coach Ian Foster achieved in 2020 with a 43-5 victory in Sydney.
The campaign’s success stories included the emergence of a very promising young front row, a new midfield combination, and the continued development of Will Jordan into a player capable of scoring at least one try in every test match.
Sam Cane has demonstrated that the captain does not need to be on the field for 80 minutes, while the team topped the charts for tries scored by multi-phase play and trailed the Springboks by one try when it came to the more direct route off lineouts.
The All Blacks are second favourites to win the World Cup at 3/1 with William Hill, and that may be the best price they can get before the tournament begins.
Springboks (Current World Ranking: Third) (Current World Ranking: Third)
The Springboks looked very much like the team that won the Rugby World Cup in 2019 in their first game, a comfortable and brutal thrashing of the All Blacks in Mbombela.
Inconsistency struck hard after that. They were ambushed at Ellis Park in a test that everyone expected them to win easily, then lost to the Wallabies in Adelaide.
This defeat was critical to the success of their campaign. Even though they responded in Sydney a week later, the two losses were enough to give the All Blacks exactly what they needed.
Young players like Caanan Moodie and Kurt Lee Arendse showed promise, even though the latter was sent off late in Mbombela’s win.
Coach Jacques Nienabar’s rigid adherence to a substitution doctrine that backfired spectacularly against the All Blacks should be addressed before next year’s crunch games.
The current World Cup holders are out at 6/1 with sports betting app, and it appears that they have some work to do before defending their title.
Wallabies (Current World Ranking: Ninth) (Current World Ranking: Ninth)
What could have been, eh? All Bernard Foley had to do in Melbourne was kick the ball into touch, and we could be praising this Wallabies team for turning a corner just when they needed it the most.
Instead, it’s more of the same – a lack of depth, an inability to deal with pressure, and key players who don’t see enough of the ball.
You have to feel sorry for Dave Rennie. He is doing everything he can not only to get this Wallaby team going, but also to make Australians care about rugby union.
Due to the sport’s competition with rugby league and AFL, Bledisloe I was moved to a Thursday, but the thrilling game that ensued demonstrated just what the Wallabies are capable of, even if they ultimately lost.
Andrew Kellaway’s progress is encouraging, and Marika Koroibete has the potential to be the most exciting player in the world if he is given enough space.
The big question is when or if Michael Hooper will return to the jersey after a self-imposed break, which is why Australia is 11/1 with BetVictor.
Pumas (Current World Ranking: Eighth)
It’s an interesting turn of events to see the Pumas make history in Christchurch with their first ever win over the All Blacks in New Zealand – even if it wasn’t their best performance of the competition.
That came when they annihilated the Wallabies in San Juan, scoring almost 50 points and running the ball from everywhere.
Within a fortnight, they went from that barnstorming style to the conservative play that beat the All Blacks, which is an encouraging sign that the Pumas can switch it up when necessary.
It’s a quality they’ll need if they want to compete in the World Cup, and they’re 25/1 with 888sport to win the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time next year.
Of course, they’ll be heavily reliant on the likes of Pablo Matera, Tomas Lavanini, and Julian Montoya to do just that.
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