The Springboks last won the Rugby Championship in 2019. (Photo by Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images)
The most competitive Rugby Championship in ages has, predictably, left various permutations on the table.
In fact, all four teams still have a mathematical chance of winning the title.
As things currently stand, the All Blacks are top of the log with 14 log points purely because the Springboks, who are also on 14 points, have an inferior points difference of 13.
Before we delve into the more complicated scenarios, let’s get the obvious ones out of the way:
If South Africa win and New Zealand lose or draw, South Africa win the title.
If New Zealand win and South Africa lose or draw, New Zealand win the title.
However, given the expectation that the two great foes will be tussling each other right until the end, it’s eminently possible that both sides will claim victories against Australia and Argentina respectively, leading to a more complicated picture.
Here are the other prominent potential outcomes.
If New Zealand and South Africa both win with a bonus point:
Both teams finish on 19 log points, which will mean points difference will be the decider.
New Zealand will claim the title if the Boks can’t make up the 13-point difference.
If New Zealand and South Africa both win without a bonus point:
Both teams finish on 18 log points.
Again, the title goes to the All Blacks if the Boks can’t improve their points difference.
If New Zealand and South Africa end level on log points and points difference:
Sanzaar rules dictate that points difference head-to-head between the teams during the season will determine the winner.
More wins won’t be a factor too because both sides are equal on that front too.
The title will go to South Africa because they boast a cumulative 49-45 score over New Zealand in their two matches (26-10 and 23-35)
If South Africa win with a bonus points, New Zealand without:
SA will have 19 log points, New Zealand 18 – title goes to the Boks
If New Zealand win with a bonus point, South Africa win without:
New Zealand will have 19 log points, SA 18 – title goes to New Zealand
To avoid overcomplicating things, here’s what Australia need to do win the title OUTRIGHT:
Beat New Zealand by a bonus point and keep the All Blacks from claiming a bonus point by losing within seven points.
They also need Argentina to beat the Boks and prevent them from claiming a losing bonus point.
That leaves the Wallabies on 15 log points, the Boks and All Blacks on 14.
Argentina can only reach 14 if they win by a bonus point.
If all four teams finish on 14 log points:
Points difference is the kingmaker.