Two huge tournaments in the global game get underway on Saturday and we cannot wait – but which teams will win?
Defending champions Australia will be looking to retain their Rugby Championship title, starting with a tricky game up against the All Blacks, while Argentina travel to South Africa looking for a second-ever win over the Springboks.
Meanwhile in France the Top 14 kicks back into life only 57 days on from last season’s final in Barcelona.
Which all means those quieter Saturdays are now long over. Let’s assess who will come out on top.
First things first, make sure to sign up for our Rugby Championship fantasy game with our friends over at SuperBru. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Australia v New Zealand
Prediction: With their foreign legion back, the Wallabies should give a good account of themselves but the All Blacks will rely heavily on the brilliance of Barrett to get them over the line. It will be close but New Zealand will win by five points!
South Africa v Argentina
Prediction: The Springboks are coming off a difficult series against Ireland and are clearly in a rebuilding phase while Argentina are missing a few key players as well. Still, the Boks should edge this one by 7-12 points.
Sacre bleu, it’s back! Six games on Saturday, one on Sunday – here’s how we see Round 1 of the new Top 14 season playing out this weekend.
Toulouse v Montpellier
Two sides with major title ambitions will go toe-to-toe at the Stade Ernest-Wallon, and after winning the battle upfront so often last season through their powerful pack Montpellier will hope to do the same again. Toulouse though will be desperate to prove themselves following a lacklustre campaign – and it’s time France’s most successful side snapped out of their lull. Montpellier edged this battle last season 31-29, but we’re predicting the reverse this time. Toulouse by 5.
Bordeaux-Bègles v Racing 92
UBB are the side on the up, recruiting well over the last two seasons, while defending champions Racing wil be eager to avoid the kind of slump that their predecessors Stade Français went through in the last campaign. Neither team are exactly shy of throwing the ball around and the battle between Ian Madigan and Dan Carter at fly-half will be fascinating. UBB want to make a statement and this seems like the perfect stage to do so. UBB by 3.
Other Top 14 predictions:
Castres v Pau: Castres by 8
La Rochelle v Clermont: Clermont by 9
Lyon v Brive: Lyon by 5
Stade Français v Grenoble: Stade by 6
Bayonne v Toulon: Toulon by 12