Is there any stopping the All Blacks?

Get up to speed on the teams scrumming down for the 2018 Rugby Championship, live on Sky Sports

The Southern Hemisphere’s version of the Six Nations is ready for kick-off…

2018 Rugby Championship, from Saturday 18 August, 10.30am, Sky Sports Action/HD (CH 517/507)

Fast, frenetic and filled with world-class talent, the unmissable Rugby Championship starts this weekend, with the mighty New Zealand aiming to make it three titles in a row.

 

This explosive annual tournament will see the All Blacks, Argentina, Australia and South Africa go head to head both home and away over the next two months – and you can watch every match live and exclusive on Sky Sports.

 

The big question is whether anyone will be able to halt a New Zealand side that hasn’t lost in nearly a year. Ahead of their opening match against the Wallabies and the Springboks’ opener against Argentina, we run the rule over the four teams taking to the field…

 

Argentina

Nicolás Sánchez playing rugby for Argentina against South Africa

Los Pumas are in disarray. Well acquainted with the wooden spoon, they have just lost their head coach Daniel Hourcade and sit tenth in the world rankings after three wins and 23 losses thus far. Yet Hourcade’s replacement, Mario Ledesma, could provide the boost needed to transform Argentina’s fortunes. The former hooker recently led club side Jaguares – Argentina’s solitary Super Rugby outfit – to the play-offs for the first time.

 

Australia

Australia rugby coach Michael Cheika

A more likely stumbling block for New Zealand will be the Wallabies. They were the last side to defeat the All Blacks nearly 12 months ago, and they come into the tournament battle hardened after a desperately close series defeat to an in-form Ireland. This is a great chance for Michael Cheika’s side to win their first Rugby Championship crown since 2015, but they’ll need to be ruthlessly consistent to make that dream a reality.

 

New Zealand

New Zealand rugby fly-half Beauden Barrett

Where shall we start? Player of the year Beauden Barrett? Breakthrough player of the year Rieko Ioane? An eight-match winning streak that includes a 127-38 aggregate score over three away matches with France? The talent New Zealand have at their disposal is terrifying and mesmerising in equal measure. Catch them on a bad day and you might have a chance of causing an upset. But here’s the thing: this elite sporting institution doesn’t do bad days.

 

South Africa

South Africa playing England in their rugby union Test series held in summer 2018

Following an impressive series win over England earlier this summer, you can bet that the Springboks will cause some serious damage in this year’s Rugby Championship. They showed that they can go toe to toe with New Zealand last season, narrowly losing 24-25 in Cape Town (though that result came after a 57-0 loss earlier in the tournament). In a team bursting with talent, front-row wrecking ball Malcolm Marx will be integral if the Springboks are to compete.

 

This weekend’s live Rugby Championship fixtures

 

Australia v New Zealand
Saturday 18 August, 10.30am, Sky Sports Action/HD (CH 517/507)

South Africa v Argentina
Saturday 18 August, 3.30pm, Sky Sports Action/HD (CH 517/507)

 

Watch on the go

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Find out what’s on Sky Sports this week

Keep up to speed with the latest games, players, athletes and action with our Sky Sports planner. Collecting together all the latest sports coverage from across the channels, there’s something for every fan to celebrate on our homepage!

 

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