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How each team can still win The Rugby Championship over final two rounds

By Ned Lester
(Photo by Dan Peled / www.photosport.nz)

The closest Rugby Championship in history is entering its final stages and every team is still in the running to take home the title with two rounds remaining.

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All four teams have two games in the win column and two in the loss, but New Zealand hold the lead on the table due to their two bonus points, with their rivals having only one a piece.

Breaking the second place tie-breaker between South Africa, Australia and Argentina is where things get a little complicated.

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The Rugby Championship employs an out of the ordinary rule that makes point differential secondary to a team’s record against their tie-breaking counterparts.

Given the current three way tie-breaker, Australia sit in second place due to them having amassed two wins against South Africa and Argentina, while the Springboks and Pumas have only managed one win against the tie-breaking teams.

It’s a rule that makes more sense when the competition is completed and each team has had the opportunity to win as many games against all opposition as each other.

Having established Australia in second place, the tie-breaker between South Africa and Argentina is then decided by overall points differential.

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Argentina’s 50 point loss on the weekend has resulted in them falling from first place the week before to the very bottom of the table.

So, for the hypotheticals:

This table outlines all the possible points outcomes remaining for each team:

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New Zealand can secure their 19th Rugby Championship title if they win both games against Australia, with both of those wins coming with a bonus point. If they do not secure the bonus points, they open the door to the tie-breaker scenarios outlined earlier.

No bonus points for the All Blacks would only be an issue if either South Africa or Argentina came away with two wins in their series with at least one of those wins being with a bonus point.

A tie-breaker between New Zealand and Argentina would see the Kiwis retain the Rugby Championship crown, due to their superior points differential against the Pumas.

However, a tie-breaker between the All Blacks and Springboks would hand South Africa the title, as the Springboks outscored New Zealand by four points over their two game series.

A Wallaby win would open the door to a number of further possibilities, each as likely as the next given the unpredictable nature of this year’s tournament.

So far, each series has seen one country host both tests, but with an uneven number of series to be played, in order to level out the home field advantage, each nation will host one home game over these final two rounds.

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