The Rugby Championship 2013 Tipping and Betting Guide

Year 2 of the preposterously narcissistic and self-importantly titled 'The Rugby Championship' (so what, no other winner of a Rugby competition is allowed to belt out at full voice Queen's 'We Are The Champions'?) and New Zealand already seem to have a mortgage on the part at the bottom of the trophy where the winners names are engraved. Australia, South Africa and Argentina may have other plans, but the reality is that they're all hoping the All Blacks are suffering a bit of Rugby World Cup mid-cycle blues.

But Rugby is Rugby, new scrum laws are set to confuse spectators even more than they would otherwise, and more opportunities will be created for the Southern Hemisphere to bleat on about how its version of the game is better than the version played north of the equator. In other words, more of the same. And that can only be a good thing.

So to help you participate in your local tipping comp, or if you're looking at having a flutter, the Rolling Maul has analysed the form of the participating nations and come up with this highly dispensable guide to The Rugby Championship 2013:

ARGENTINA
Don't believe a word of it. For all the talk of Argentina's gallant performances in 2012, their gutsy draw against South Africa, that Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe is the best number 8 in the world (he's not, he just has the best name of any number 8 in the world) and their promise for 40 minutes at a time against Australia and the All Blacks, the reality is that there is daylight between the Pumas and the rest of the Rugby Championship nations. It's simple geography, finances, history and resources. There's a lot of experts tipping Argentina to win a match or two this year, and while there's something romantic about the notion, the reality is somewhat different.

Last year  Last (1 draw, 5 losses)
Prediction this year  Last (1 draw, 5 losses)
Odds  $101
Value  None

SOUTH AFRICA
Writing form guides is particularly difficult when there is no form to speak of. While Australia took on the British and Irish Lions and New Zealand battled (though it wasn't much of a content) France, South Africa took on the 'strength' of Italy, Samoa and Scotland without their Lions (all 2 of them). South Africa pretty much romped through that tournament (don't call it a Championship) without losing a match, so as far as hit outs go it was pretty meaningless, to the extent that the Boks coach Heyneke Meyer has recalled halfback Fourie du Preez from Japan, where he'd gone to collect his pension, and may even call up up to 6 other Boks that have fled to chase the bucks overseas. It's a disrupting influence that is bound to unsettle the team. Or maybe it's a team under siege that will gel in adversity.

Last year  3rd (2 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses)
Prediction this year  3rd (2 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses)
Odds  $5
Value  Given the ordinary form of the South African teams in the Super rugby finals (against the Brumbies), coupled with the the stayers and goers cliques in the Boks team, these odds are way too short.

AUSTRALIA
Either that's a large beer or the
Bledisloe is not as big as people say
Believe it or not, but the Wallabies were not thrashed by the Lions. In fact, they came within a plastic boot stud (Kurtley Beale's that inconveniently failed him at a crucial moment) of winning the series. OR The Wallabies were lucky to win the match that they did and the fact that Kurtley Beale missed a goal kick that would have won the Wallabies the first match was more fate and good luck that they had a chance at all rather than skill. So, depending upon your perspective (or your version of reality), the Wallabies are either primed and out for redemption or battered, beaten and despondent.

Last year  2nd (3 wins, 3 losses)
Prediction this year  2nd (3 wins, 3 losses)
Odds  $5
Value  New coach, new team members, a team that's gelled from shared experiences (Lions series, Brumbies riding high), this could be the Wallabies best chance in a long time to reclaim some long lost (and never won) silverware. Put the mortgage (for the second house) on them.

NEW ZEALAND
You've got to wonder what there's left to play for in New Zealand Rugby. World Cups, Tri-Nations, Super Rugby titles, Rugby Championships, 7s World Cups, Wheelchair Rugby Championships and gold medals (probably). It's left the rest of us playing for scraps, but perhaps it also makes those occasional victories over the Black Menace all that much more satisfying. So here's to more All Black success in the future. The higher they fly, the further they'll have to fall, and they're certainly flying high at the moment.

Last year  1st (undefeated)
Prediction this year  1st (undefeated)
Odds  $1.35
Value  The reality is that the All Blacks are as close as you get to a sure thing in Rugby (now that the World Cup hoodoo has been overcome - at home at least!). So as cunning punters know, there is always good value in hedging on a hot favourite, and the ABs almost by definition are as hot as they come.

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