2023 Argentina vs New Zealand All Blacks

The Rugby Championship - New Zealand To Banish Ghosts Of 2022

The Rugby Championship - New Zealand To Banish Ghosts Of 2022

New Zealand's All Blacks will open their 2023 Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina's Los Pumas as they prepare for the Rugby World Cup in France.

Jul 7, 2023 by Philip Bendon
The Rugby Championship - New Zealand To Banish Ghosts Of 2022

Three-time Rugby World Cup champions New Zealand begin their 2023 Rugby Championship campaign in Mendoza, Argentina.

Facing them will be a fired-up Los Pumas team who defeated the Kiwis in New Zealand for the first time in history during last season’s campaign. 

Despite this setback, the All Blacks recovered to win the Championship once again, yet enter this season as somewhat of an unknown. 

Having routinely dominated Super Rugby Pacific again this season, New Zealand is yet to square off with Argentinean and South African opposition this season. Whilst they once again hold superiority over their neighbours from across the Tasman Sea. Gauging their level of form against Australian opposition would appear to be a rather redundant ploy. 

2022 Form 

2022 was a season of historic moments for New Zealand Rugby, yet unfortunately, none of these moments were positive for the Kiwis.

Thumped at home in a three-match series by Ireland, it was panic stations in the land of the long white cloud. Not only was it their first home loss to Ireland, but also a rather devastating series-defining defeat in the third test. 

Simply put, New Zealand were out-thought by the Irish, who would end the season as the World’s number one ranked side. 

Next up was a deflating loss in South Africa to the Springboks that would see the pressure hit a fever pitch as calls for head coach Ian Foster to be removed grew louder by the second. 

Yet, a week later, with their backs firmly to the wall, the All Blacks came out swinging. Reversing their fortunes from a week prior, a comprehensive victory at Ellis Park quietened the noise outside the camp. 

Just as the rumblings of discontent quelled, a first-ever home loss to Argentina had All Blacks fans bashing down the doors of New Zealand Rugby.

In a country so accustomed to winning, three home losses in a single season became a topic of conversation at the highest levels of government. 

As they had done in South Africa, the All Blacks would rebound emphatically a week later as they put fifty points on the South Americans. 

Back-to-back victories over the Wallabies hardly allayed any fears, given the fortuitous nature with which the first test was won. Trailing with mere seconds on the clock, New Zealand were awarded a penalty on the Australian line as Wallabies flyhalf Bernard Foley was penalized for wasting time. 

A complete obliteration of Australia in the final round and, with it a securing of both the Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship title kept Foster in place for a trip to the Northern Hemisphere. 

First up was a touch-and-go 38 – 31 victory over a passionate Japanese team in Tokyo who will be ruing a missed opportunity to add yet another giant scalp to their collection. 

Strong victories over a struggling Welsh side and an in-form Scotland appeared to have the men in black back on the straight and narrow, as did the first seventy minutes of action at Twickenham as they led England by a three-score margin. 

Yet, as had been the case all season, the killer instinct of past All Blacks teams was missing as England rallied back to secure a 25 – 25 draw. 

Ending the season with eight wins, four losses, and one draw would be a rather strong year for the majority of teams in World Rugby. Yet, this is the All Blacks, and that sort of record was unthinkable given the standards set by the country's ‘Golden Generation’ who reigned supreme between 2011 – 2019. 

Key Player 

Having come unstuck in the physicality department on several occasions throughout 2022, it will be interesting to see how the All Blacks deploy their stable of versatile forwards. 

One player who has become seemingly irreplaceable is utility forward Scott Barrett, who is fresh off leading the Crusaders to a seventh consecutive Super Rugby title. 

The 29-year-old who will once again be joined by brothers Jordie and Beauden in the Black shirt is undoubtedly one of the finest forward talents in the game. 

Dynamic around the pitch with enough grunt to play in either the second or backrows, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Foster utilise him in both roles. 

Given the absence of both Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock, Barrett’s leadership in the pack will be crucial. Starting in the secondrow against Argentina alongside 22-year-old Josh Lord. Barrett will almost certainly call the shots come line-out time. 

His biggest impact, however, will likely come against the giant South African pack in round two, where he will have to contend with the likes of Eben Etzebeth, Franco Mostert and Lood de Jager. 


Starting the Championship in Argentina is no longer a gimme for any of the Rugby Championship sides. 

Having now defeated all three of their rivals’ home and away, Los Pumas are genuine title contenders. 

Throw into the mix that Foster has rotated his squad in anticipation of their round two clash with the Springboks, and this suddenly becomes a tricky proposition for the All Blacks. 

Given the challenges Argentina face with getting their players back from European club rugby, both sides could enter undercooked. Thus throwing further variables into the mix.

Round two’s meeting with the aforementioned Springboks is the clash of the Championship by any metric. Both teams have won three World Cups and are generally regarded as the big two in rugby terms. 

Can the All Blacks match the South African physicality, or is another unthinkable home loss on the cards? It is awfully difficult to tell. 

Closing out the campaign with a trip to Melbourne against a team very few have a handle on heading into the Championship in Australia is impossible to predict at this point. 

New Zealand losing all three fixtures this season is simply unthinkable, but on the flipside, an undefeated run is not a certainty. 

Based solely on their body of work as a nation, the All Blacks will be contenders, but they will not win the title this season. In what will be a mightily tough Championship, the All Blacks will finish 2nd but close on points with all three other nations.