All Blacks send chilling Rugby Championship warning to rivals

27 June 2016 - 12:04 By Craig Ray

The All Blacks sent a brutal warning during the June internationals that they will be the team to beat in the upcoming Rugby Championships after crushing Wales 3-0 in their series. The reigning world champions smashed Wales 46-6 in the third Test after the two sides had produced a highly entertaining and tight first two Tests‚ which the All Blacks won 39-21 and 36-22. Australia were embarrassed with a 3-0 series defeat against Six Nations champions England – losing their first three Tests of the year for the first time in over 40 years – while Argentina ended 1-1 against France. The Springboks laboured to a 2-1 series win over Ireland. In each Test six points separated the teams and while there was relief that the Boks won it is clear that more pain lies ahead for the Boks as new coach Allister Coetzee rebuilds. Ireland were the better team for most of the series and only sheer bloody-mindedness and superb resilience from the Boks saw them through at the end.If this series hadn’t been played in SA‚ the outcome would have been different.But that character is an important foundation that Coetzee can build on. New Zealand though‚ continue to rewrite history at every turn. They are on an 11-match winning streak following their pre-World Cup loss to Australia in Sydney last year and they have only lost three Tests in five years. Including the 2011 World Cup‚ the All Blacks have played 64 matches‚ won 59‚ lost three and drawn two.It’s an incredible record. Since the Tri-Nations became the Rugby Championship in 2012‚ which expanded to four teams to include Argentina‚ the All Blacks have won three of the four editions of the tournament. Australia won in 2015‚ but as it was a World Cup year and a truncated competition‚ the All Blacks were more focused on the main event in England.  In the Rugby Championship the All Blacks have won 18 of their 21 matches‚ or 85.7%‚ with two losses and a draw. South Africa by contrast have won 10‚ lost 10 and drawn one of their Rugby Championship clashes for a dismal 47.6 winning percentage.Australia’s return is identical to the Boks‚ but they did at least manage to win the tournament in 2015. Argentina have gradually improved but their return is understandably poor with only two wins in 21 matches.  What makes the All Blacks’ dominance seem insurmountable is the ease with which new players step up to the Test arena and thrive. Against Wales flanks Ardie Savea and Elliot Dixon looked like seasoned veterans while centre George Moala made a sensational debut. Even fringe players such as centre Ryan Crotty looked a cut above anything else the Wallabies‚ Boks or Pumas had to offer.New Zealand’s player depth‚ skills and tactical plan is years ahead of their opponents. While South Africa is undergoing a huge overhaul‚ the All Blacks are in the luxurious position of changing a few players in various positions while the spine of their dominant team remains in tact. The All Blacks have set the bar so high it’s impossible to see‚ based on June’s evidence‚ how any of their Rugby Championship rivals will even come close. - TMG Digital

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