The Rugby Championship 2021: The Breakdown – Springboks imperious against Argentina

By Sports Desk August 20, 2021

There will be two very different-looking sides when South Africa face Argentina for the second time in this year's Rugby Championship on Saturday.

The Springboks triumphed 32-12 at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last week despite making 10 changes to the side that secured a series win over the British and Irish Lions.

Coach Jacques Nienaber has again elected to mix up the line-up, with six alterations at the back and five among the forwards. Indeed, there are 17 changes to the matchday squad in total, with Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi, Jasper Wiese and Cobus Reinach the only men to retain their places in the starting XV.

It will be a special occasion for lock De Jager, who will earn his 50th cap for South Africa.

"Lood is a stalwart, and his work ethic is admirable, so we are excited to see him achieve this big feat," said Nienaber this week.

"It takes special character to feature and perform consistently at international level and to play 50 Tests for the Springboks, and Lood is certainly deserving of this accolade."

Argentina too have rung the changes following last week's defeat, their first of 2021.

Santiago Chocobares and Jeronimo de la Fuente keep their places in midfield, but the whole backline has changed, with wing Ignacio Mendy set to win his first cap.

The front row remains the same, but Guido Petti moves from lock to flanker to replace Facundo Isa, who is not in the squad. Marcos Kremer has dropped to the bench, with Tomas Lavanini and Matias Alemanno brought in.

Lucio Cinti is among the replacements, having helped Argentina to a rugby sevens bronze medal at the Olympics this year, alongside Mendy.

Saturday's contest represents the sole Rugby Championship interest for this week, with New Zealand's clash with Australia having been called off after the All Blacks withdrew from the contest in Perth due to COVID-19 concerns.

SOUTH AFRICA V ARGENTINA

Form

South Africa have won 87 per cent of their Test matches against Argentina, their best record against a single country they have faced at least 10 times, aside from Italy (93 per cent). They have lost only once in their past 30 Tests in Port Elizabeth and have won 15 of their most recent 16.

The Springboks are bidding to go five games without defeat in the Rugby Championship for the first time since 2009.

Argentina, who have not lost consecutive Test matches since September 2019, have only won once in their most recent 10 Rugby Championship games – that was a 25-15 defeat of New Zealand last November.

 

Ones to watch

De Jager, who will become the fourth Springbok this season to reach 50 caps, won the joint-most lineouts (including steals) of any player in round one (six, level with Sam Whitelock). That is double the tally of any Argentina player.

"I've been fortunate enough to be part of real highs but also real lows of SA rugby," he said ahead of the match. "I've had more injuries than most guys, but it's part of my journey and I have to overcome it.

"Playing my 50th Test is a true privilege."

Argentina will need to disrupt their hosts as best they can and captain Julian Montoya could be crucial: he won all 13 of his tackles last week, the most of any player without missing a single attempt during the firsts round of matches.

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