2022 Argentina vs South Africa

South Africa Vs. Argentina Rugby Preview: Boks Look To End Pumas Run

South Africa Vs. Argentina Rugby Preview: Boks Look To End Pumas Run

With all four teams in the Rugby Championship deadlocked at two losses each, the contest between South Africa and Argentina holds extra significance.

Sep 14, 2022 by Briar Napier
South Africa Vs. Argentina Rugby Preview: Boks Look To End Pumas Run

Most rugby observers probably expected South Africa and Argentina’s two-test series at the end of this year’s Rugby Championship to be a fairly straightforward mission for the Springboks—win handily.

However, as Los Pumas have proven to both of the other nations that they’ve faced thus far in the competition, they are not to be taken lightly.

With two rounds of play remaining, all four Rugby Championship teams (South Africa, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand) are deadlocked at two wins and two defeats, meaning that the 2022 edition of the annual competition between SANZAAR sides is approaching a fight to the finish unlike any that’s been seen in the tournament’s history. 

It makes the remaining two tests for each team must-watch rugby as every run, pass, kick and try has a particularly important meaning. No one is playing for pride at this point—only trophies and glory.

Here’s a peek at what to expect when South Africa and Argentina meet, held across two tests in Buenos Aires (on September 17) and Durban (on September 24) and streamed live on FloRugby.

South Africa-Argentina: A History

For opponents that play each other rather frequently, having squared off 32 times, South Africa and Argentina’s shared rugby history is rather short. Despite sharing the fact that they are the two Rugby Championship teams non-native to the South Pacific, the Springboks and Los Pumas only met for the first time in 1993 following South Africa’s readmission to international rugby the previous year after the country abolished apartheid. 

Less surprisingly, the series has been dominated by the Springboks, with the team beginning its series against Los Pumas with 19 tests unbeaten (18 wins, one draw) before Argentina finally pulled off a maiden win in the 2015 Rugby Championship in Durban. 

There have been some big meetings between the two Tier 1 rugby nations—including the 2007 World Cup semifinal and the bronze medal match at the 2015 World Cup—but since Argentina turned the Tri Nations into The Rugby Championship with their joining into the competition in 2012, the two teams have met multiple times every year. 

Los Pumas have only beaten the Boks three times in their history and never since 2018, but considering that Argentina has already nabbed victories over New Zealand and Australia in this year’s competition, who’s to say they can’t pull off the trifecta? Then again, South Africa is the defending world champion, and if there’s any team that can destroy a dream run in dominant fashion, it’s the Springboks. 

South Africa

Current world rank: Third

Rugby Championship position: Third 

The lowdown: Even while outside first place in this year’s Rugby Championship with two matchweeks remaining, there’s no better-positioned team in the tournament than South Africa. Sure, there’s the additional caveat that this year’s competition has been much crazier and more unpredictable than others, but all the Springboks likely have to do is be dominant against an opponent that they’ve historically dominated. 

Granted, New Zealand has won almost every match in its history against Argentina, too, and the All Blacks lost for the first time to Los Pumas in New Zealand just this past month. Coach Jacques Nienaber’s side just came off one of the team's most complete performances in the competition in a 24-8 win over Australia in Sydney. 

That ended a nine-year winless streak in the Land Down Under as the stalwart players in the Springboks XV did their thing while new blood emerged in the meantime, like when winger Canan Moodie scored a try on his international debut. 

However, South Africa will need to get points without several key contributors in this year’s side. Center Lukhanyo Am, who scored a try in the Boks’ 26-10 triumph over New Zealand, and fly-half Handre Pollard—who won the World Cup in the same position three years ago—are still both unavailable for selection to the squad after each suffered knee injuries. Bongi Mbonambi and winger Cheslin Kolbe will also likely be unavailable. 

Still, replacements Malcolm Marx and Damian Willemse (at hooker and fly-half, respectively) have done well as fill-ins, with both likely to start once again against Argentina until further notice. Additionally, South Africa has won both of its matches this Rugby Championship in which they scored the first try, so if the Springboks strike first, it could be a long night ahead for Los Pumas.


Current world rank: Sixth

Rugby Championship position: Fourth

The lowdown: This is not your last-placed Argentina team of the past. Just ask Australia and New Zealand, both of which were stunned with defeats by new coach Michael Cheika’s electric attack that is turning heads, and has Los Pumas in serious contention for an unprecedented first-place finish at a Rugby Championship with two rounds left. 

Argentina, historically the loser of the competition since it joined the then-Tri Nations tournament in 2012, is on a dream run that has included just the second instance (along with 2018) that it’s won multiple matches in a single Rugby Championship. 

But unlike five years ago, when New Zealand ran away with the tournament title anyway with five wins, all four nations in the 2022 Rugby Championship are on near-identical footing, setting the stage for a tense final two tests. 

How can Los Pumas end up on top at the end of it all, then? 

The answer might be flying down the wing later this week. Edinburgh star Emiliano Boffelli has been the player of the competition thus far, leading the player point tally table with 57 points, 18 better than second-placed Richie Mo’unga of New Zealand. Throw in the three tries of flanker Juan Martin Gonzalez for good measure, and Argentina has top-to-bottom talent that can beat anyone, anywhere, anytime. 

The first of its two tests against the Springboks will be in Buenos Aires at the Estadio Libertadores de America—normally the home of soccer matches—in what should be a raucous home atmosphere. But if Los Pumas were to snag a massive win over South Africa for just the fourth time this decade, it would put them in the driver’s seat to control their own destiny for a Rugby Championship title—which, if it happens, would be the first time the trophy would be held by a South American nation.