The 2022 Rugby Championship draws to a close this weekend after the most competitive tournament since its inauguration in 2012.
The tournament has seen the rise of Los Pumas, who claimed a record win against Australia and their first triumph against the All Blacks on New Zealand soil.
New Zealand have struggled for form, with much of the championship littered with speculation over coach Ian Foster’s future at the helm of the side, while Australia and South Africa have blown hot and cold throughout.
Heading into the final round, every team mathematically could claim the title with the All Blacks and Springboks best-placed to achieve glory.
Planet Rugby breaks down the possible permutations for each team in their race for the Rugby Championship title.
All Blacks to claim the title
A bonus point victory against Australia at Eden Park is a big step toward the title for New Zealand as the Springboks would need to beat Argentina with a bonus point and a big enough winning margin to exceed the 13 points difference the All Blacks currently have as well as the additional points difference gained in the final round.
If the All Blacks win without a bonus point, it is still possible to claim the title provided the Springboks lose or do not win with a bonus point and their winning margin does not exceed that 13 points difference margin with the addition of points gained in Round Six.
Springboks to claim the title
Realistically, to have a serious chance at pushing for glory, the Springboks need to win with a bonus point against Argentina. The five points would place the South Africans above the All Blacks if they do not win with a bonus point against the Wallabies at Eden Park. Alternatively, suppose the All Blacks do win with a bonus point. In that case, the Springboks will be required to win with a significant margin over Argentina to gain superiority in points difference over the New Zealanders, given the 13 point difference advantage which the Kiwis have going into the final round.
However, coach Jacques Nienaber’s men could still win the title with a regular victory provided the All Blacks lose or do not win with a bonus point and the Boks surpass the All Blacks in points difference. However, this scenario is unlikely as if the Springboks were to win by a significant enough margin, they would probably secure a bonus point in the process.
Wallabies to claim the title
The Wallabies are outsiders for the title and would need a bonus point victory at Eden Park – a venue they have not won at since 1986 – as well as a Springbok loss or draw. There is also a slim chance the Australians could take it all home with a bonus point win of their own and if the Springboks lose with a bonus point. However, the Wallabies would need to record a sizeable win over their Trans-Tasman rivals in this case.
Los Pumas to claim title
Argentina need a miracle to claim the title, but technically, they are not mathematically out of the equation. However, Los Pumas will need Australia to claim a standard win over the All Blacks and claim a massive victory over the Springboks themselves to overturn a 17 points deficit to the Wallabies going into the final round with the addition of further points difference gained in the event of Australia winning at Eden Park.
The 2022 Rugby Championship has been memorable and embodies the vision of the competition, with Argentina on the rise claiming scalps from their Southern Hemisphere rivals.
The mini-tour structure brought a different dynamic and conducive to a more competitive tournament. It is all to play for in the final round, with the champions to be crowned on Saturday.