Odds Shift for Rugby Championship Winner Following Round Two
Last July, after opening their tours with losses, Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland all stormed back into contention by turning around their results the following weekend.
Round Two of the Rugby Championship saw a similar reversal of results within international rugby in the space of seven day, with New Zealand defeating South Africa after being thoroughly beaten last weekend, and Argentina trouncing Australia despite having lost by 15 points a week earlier.
Now, the Rugby Championship is perfectly poised, as teams have a week off before switching continents and playing against a different foe.
We look at how this volatile fortnight of rugby has impacted the outright winner odds in the Rugby Championship.
New Zealand Firmly Ahead As Favorites
Normal proceedings have resumed in the rugby world, as the All Blacks are once again overwhelming favorites to win the Rugby Championship.
With odds of -370, New Zealand are an almost 80% favorite to win the tournament they’ve prevailed in 18 times before. This, despite the fact that after two matches, the All Blacks are in last place on the Rugby Championship table, and have lost five of their last seven matches.
What these odds speak to is just how significant the All Blacks’ 35-23 victory over the Springboks on the weekend was. To have bounced back from a 26-10 defeat the week before, and have done that at Ellis Park, the fortress of South African rugby of all places, is truly spectacular. Visiting teams just don’t come to Ellis Park and put 12 points on the Springboks—it’s their spiritual home, played in front of 62,000 fans at altitude; not exactly prime conditions for a visiting team.
And yet, the All Blacks put on their best performance of the last 18 months, and in doing so, answered a lot of the questions being raised by critics. Ian Foster had claimed something special was brewing in the All Blacks’ camp, and that proved to be correct. The set piece has looked much improved, and even Sam Cane’s opening try was symbolic of his credibility as captain. Add to this a sharper looking attack with Richie Mo’unga and Caleb Clarke firing, plus the back three more adjusted under the high ball, and New Zealand are suddenly looking like the real deal.
From a betting perspective, the bookmakers believe the All Blacks are back.
Argentina’s Dominance Not Rewarded by Bookies
The men from South America pulled off an absolute blinder of a game against Australia on Saturday, putting the Wallabies away 48-17.
And yet, the bookies haven’t blinked an eye.
Right now, outright odds on the Pumas winning the Rugby Championship are +2500—a little less than 4%. Despite them putting on a dominant performance against the world’s sixth best team, and currently sitting in first place on the Rugby Championship table after two weeks, Argentina are still rated an incredibly longshot to win the tournament. Ultimately, the bookmakers seem to have put this match down as a one-off, and expect Argentina to not back up in their following matches.
Though the odds seem harsh, they aren’t without good reason. The Pumas now have two matches against the All Blacks in New Zealand, followed by a home and away trade against South Africa. Given that Argentina have only ever won two games in the Rugby Championship on one occasion, in 2018, it looks highly improbable that they will win three of their remaining four matches, particularly with three of those matches being on the road against the All Blacks and South Africa.
While progress was certainly shown over the weekend, Argentina are still awhile off being a genuine threat for the Rugby Championship title, as opposed to a banana skin for other teams to navigate.
South Africa and Australia Trail New Zealand
With all teams now having one win and one loss to their names, the remaining two contenders for the title are South Africa and Australia.
Both teams are rated as a chance to win the tournament, but relatively long shots by the bookies. South Africa come in second favorite at +350, a 22% chance, while Australia languish at +800, giving them a little better than a one in ten shot.
These odds say that given South Africa and New Zealand sit on equal points, and both have the same four games coming up—two against Australia, and two against Argentina—South Africa are most likely to blink first. Their poor record in Australia over recent times, plus the fact that three of their four matches are away games will count against them.
Australia on the other hand, are given a slim chance of winning the tournament because of their upcoming games against New Zealand. With the All Blacks’ revived form, and the Wallabies shocking record against the Kiwis in Eden Park, the chances of Australia picking up points here is looking poor.
After a rocky ten months, it appears as though the All Blacks are back to their winning ways.