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Rugby Championship Round 1 Biggest Takeaways

14 August 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld


The short and sweet edition of the Rugby Championship saw the Springboks wrest the title from the All Blacks’ clutches.

The men in Green and Gold went through the truncated tournament, reduced to a single round because of the World Cup, unbeaten, with dominant wins over the Wallabies (35-17) and Los Pumas (46-13) and a thrilling draw (16-16) with the All Blacks on New Zealand soil sandwiched in between.

It’s the first time in the quadrangular southern hemisphere tournament’s eight-year history that a team other than the All Blacks won the coveted silverware outright (Australia and New Zealand shared the spoils in 2015).

Rassie Erasmus’ resurgent Springboks dominate our Team of the Tournament with nine representatives, including the Player of the Tournament. The Wallabies’ famous win over the All Blacks at the weekend, following their victory over Argentina, saw them finish second and landed them three players in our team.

Only two players from the New Zealand team who finished in an unfamiliar third place made the cut and just a lone Argentine ace cracked the nod.

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Showed he’s dangerous at both flyhalf and fullback. Used the extra time and space in the No.15 jersey to cause all sorts of problems for the Boks and Wallabies. Beat a tournament-high 16 defenders and was edged only by Wallaby centre Samu Kerevi in carries (47), running metres (202) and clean breaks (7).

Solidified himself as a Test star after years of doubts whether he could cut it at the highest level due to his small stature. Stood head and shoulders above the rest in the Wellington thriller with an excellent defensive display and sparked the match-levelling try. Continued that form in Salta, where he scored a try of his own and even put in a promising 10-minute cameo as acting scrumhalf.

The All Blacks outside centre churned out consistent top-class performances. An elusive attacker, he evaded a match-record seven defenders in the titanic clash against the Boks, in which he also scored an important try. A solid defender as well.

A monster in midfield. The Australian ace finished as the tournament leader in carries (50), running metres (221), clean breaks (10) and offloads (6) and sits in joint-second place (along with Ben Smith) behind Beauden Barrett in terms of defenders beaten (15).

The most consistent No.11, he made some scintillating runs – the best of the bunch being the beautiful break from a scrum against Argentina, which saw Reece Hodge finish off – but also impressed with his work rate, often popping up in other areas of the field.

Marshalled the Boks in the draw with the All Blacks and punished the Pumas with a commanding performance. His 31-point haul at the weekend was a South African record against Argentina and underlined once again that he is THE key figure in the South African set-up.

Along with the Springboks’ maiden triumph, the 2019 Rugby Championship will also be remembered as the Herschel Jantjies Show. The rookie scrumhalf had a dream debut against Australia in the opening round, producing a Man of the Match performance which included a brace, and he was the hero once again when he came off the bench to score the match-saving try against the All Blacks in Wellington.

Another consistent performer, Vermeulen was rock solid with ball-in-hand, on defence, at the breakdown, in the lineouts and when fielding restarts. Handled the added responsibility of captaining his country with aplomb against the All Blacks and Pumas as he led the Boks to their maiden Rugby Championship crown.

Australia’s all-action captain was/is the heart and soul of the Wallabies. Bled for the cause and led by example once again, especially on defence, where he was shaded by just a single tackle by…

It comes as little surprise that the tireless Bok loose forward tops the tournament’s tackle stats (36). He’s unquestionably the best blindside flank (even though he wears No.7 on his back) in the world right now. The total package – strong, physical, athletic, skilful and equipped with a bottomless fuel tank. For opposing teams, he resembles a movie villain that just keeps on coming.

Made the Bok No.5 jersey his own with outstanding outings against the All Blacks and Pumas. Aside from his solid set-piece play, he spearheaded South Africa’s physical charge and was unrelenting on defence, making 10 tackles in Wellington and an even more impressive 16 hits in Salta.

Starred in the narrow defeats to the All Blacks and Wallabies. Was a tower of strength in the lineouts, managing the most steals and joint-most takes along with Eben Etzebeth. Much more than a lineout general, the Pumas lock made double-digit tackles in both of his starts and turned over ball on the floor.

Played the best rugby of his career. Raised his stock exponentially with dominant performances at scrum time and exception contributions across the park. His performance against the Pumas was as good as you are likely to see from an international tighthead and included the Bok brute making 15 tackles.

Enhanced his reputation and put pressure on Malcolm Marx for the Bok No.2 jersey with his sniper-like lineout throwing, excellent scrummaging and high work rate.

To use a cliché, the Bok legend is like a fine wine. Beast mode was fully activated when he started against Australia and Argentina and proceeded to annihilate both with powerful and passionate scrummaging and he got through a ton of work across the field.

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Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

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