2023 South Africa vs Australia

The Rugby Championship 2023 - South Africa To Repeat 2019 Fortunes

The Rugby Championship 2023 - South Africa To Repeat 2019 Fortunes

Reigning Rugby World Cup champions South Africa begin their 2023 Rugby Championship campaign against Eddie Jones' Australian Wallabies in Pretoria.

Jul 7, 2023 by Philip Bendon
The Rugby Championship 2023 - South Africa To Repeat 2019 Fortunes

Reigning Rugby World Cup champions South Africa begin their 2023 Rugby Championship campaign at home against Eddie Jones’ Australia. 

Playing on the Highveld in Pretoria, the Springboks will be looking to keep their sterling record against the Australians intact. 

Last losing to the Wallabies in South Africa back in 2011, Jacques Nienaber and his side will be confident in bagging the full five points ahead of their trip to New Zealand a week later. 

Currently ranked fourth in the world, the Springboks will be looking to replicate their 2019 fortunes and use the Rugby Championship as a springboard for future World Cup success. 

Having already named their team for round one, the Boks remain without influential captain Siya Kolisi who is recovering from knee surgery. 

In his place, veteran number eight Duane Vermeulen will take the reins in round one, with either Lukhanyo Am or Eben Etzebeth likely to take the lead in the later rounds. 

2022 Form 

Eight wins from thirteen outings for a win rate of 61% is about par for the Springboks in a non-World Cup year. 

Yet, it felt very much like a case of two steps forward and one step back for the Boks in 2022. 

A historic first loss at home to Wales in the June series put a major dampener on the start of the season. 

With hindsight, however, the Boks rebounding a week later to clinch the series 2 – 1, having rotated their squad significantly throughout the series, could well prove to be a masterstroke by Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber in terms of building squad depth. 

Even still losing to a far-from-vintage Welsh side showed the limitations of the Boks' gameplan of brutal physicality without any real cutting edge. 

Next up would be a resounding thumping of New Zealand in round one of the Rugby Championship, only to be on the receiving end of a similar result a week later. 

Not being able to double down on their vulnerable foes was quite possibly the most disappointing outcome of last season. Rarely do teams have the All Blacks on the ropes for an extended period, and the Boks will know losing that psychological advantage could come back to bite them down the line. 

Splitting a series with the Wallabies away from home was a difficult set of results to analyse. Clearly outthought in the first fixture, the Boks brutalised the Australians in round two to leave down under on a high. 

Back-to-back victories over Argentina reaffirmed South Africa’s dominance over the South Americans, making it nine victories from ten against Los Pumas. 

Next came a pilgrimage north to face the top two teams in the World in, Ireland and France. Losing both fixtures narrowly could be put down to a dismal display from the kicking tee, highlighting just how important Handre Pollard is to their chances at this year’s World Cup. 

Back-to-back dominant victories over Italy and England possibly papered over a few cracks, given the disparity in player quality between the nations at this moment in time. 

Thus, for all of their bluster with their opening-round victory over the All Blacks, there is a feeling the Boks never quite hit their straps consistently enough in 2022. 

Key Player 

Quite possibly the greatest secondrow in the sport’s history, Eben Etzebeth will once again be an integral piece to the Bok puzzle this season. 

With both Siya Kolisi and Handre Pollard out injured, Etzebeth, Lukhanyo Am, Steven Kitshoff, and Duane Vermeulen will be key leaders throughout the Championship. 

Unfortunately, fans will miss out on the mouth-watering matchup between Etzebeth and Wallabies duo Will Skelton and Richie Arnold, given the Nienaber’s decision to send half of his squad to New Zealand a week early. 

Yet, facing Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock once again, Etzebeth will not be short of challenges. 


No country peaks better for a World Cup than the Springboks. Seemingly infallible to form heading into the tournament, the Boks are, by and large, always contenders. 

Having been edged by the All Blacks once again last season, Erasmus and Nienaber will be hoping to replicate their form of 2019. 

Becoming the first team to win both The Rugby Championship and the Rugby World Cup in the same year, the Springboks employed a similar tactic of splitting their squad. 

Such is the depth of the South African player pool at the moment one really has to squint to definitively discern which is the Bok ‘A’ team. 

With that being said, a lot is being made about the unpredictability of the Wallabies under Eddie Jones. Given the travel and altitude factors, it is hard to see the Australians winning in Pretoria. 

Next up is a clash with an All Blacks side who will be travelling back from Argentina in round two. Once again, presenting an opportunity to pull one over on their greatest rivals. 

Finally, in round three is a clash with Argentina, who will be travelling from Sydney to Johannesburg for the fixture at Ellis Park. 

It, therefore, doesn’t take a fortune teller to see the Boks having a rock-solid chance of securing three wins from three. 

Even if they do slip up at one point, the draw this season is about as favourable as it gets, and as such, they will begin 2023 as they did in 2019 by securing the Rugby Championship title.