Rugby Championship 2013 Schedule: When and Where to Watch Key Fixtures

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Rugby Championship 2013 Schedule: When and Where to Watch Key Fixtures
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With six rounds of rugby pitting the four best teams of the Southern Hemisphere against one another across 12 fixtures, the Rugby Championship’s highly anticipated return is here.

Given the standard of competition on show, each fixture is of course a matchup that has a great impact on the tournament, but some are bound to have a greater effect on just where the title ends up.

It’s unsurprising that relative minnows Argentina aren't being built up as contenders for silverware come October, meaning the South Americans pose the smallest threat to the chances of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.

Whether as a result of environment, those available for team selection or simply because of the reputation of the teams involved, the following games will prove crucial in just who comes out on top one of of this summer’s biggest sporting events.

 

Round Two: New Zealand vs. Australia

When: August 24, 2013

Where: WestPac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand

Time: 19:35 p.m.NZST/08:35 a.m.BST/03:35 a.m. ET

Viewing Info: Sky Sports (UK), Fox Sports (AUS)

The second Bledisloe Cup encounter of the championship is almost as enigmatic as the first, throwing up countless questions that are set to be answered in massive style.

How will Ewen McKenzie’s appointment as coach affect the Wallabies’ setup? Will the WestPac atmosphere play a role in the match? Will Matt Toomua retain a starting spot or will Quade Cooper step back in?

During the first meeting between the two, British and Irish Lion Stuart Hogg was on hand to comment on the encounter via Twitter:

Heading into the competition, New Zealand are rightfully looked at as favourites to retain the trophy they won without even the slightest blemish last year.

That being said, the absence of Dan Carter, who recently picked up a calf injury, will also represent a big blow for the All Blacks as Aaron Cruden steps in to deputise.

Come the end of this tournament, it could very well be these two sides competing most closely for the title, making it somewhat of a pity that the two meetings happen so early on.

 

Round Four: New Zealand vs. South Africa

When: September 14, 2013

Where: Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand

Time: 19:35 p.m.NZST/08:35 a.m.BST/03:35 a.m. ET

Viewing Info: Sky Sports (UK), Fox Sports (AUS)

According to the bookmakers, South Africa will be the most likely challengers to the All Blacks’ Rugby Championship throne this summer, although not at much shorter odds than Australia.

Gallo Images/Getty Images

The Springboks have the advantage of not being in the same state of transition as Australia and have progressed well under the guidance of Heyneke Meyer in the last year or so.

There’s a good chance that Meyer’s men can take a win in their own back yard, but the true test to New Zealand’s title defence could come in Auckland.

If South Africa are able to prevent the New Zealand victory at Eden Park, it’ll put the Springboks in the driving seat for the Rugby Championship, but that’s a monumental “if” to consider at this point.

 

Round Five: South Africa vs. Australia

When: September 28, 2013

Where: Newlands, Cape Town, South Africa

Time: 17:00 p.m.SAST/16:00 p.m.BST/11:00 a.m. ET

Viewing Info: Sky Sports (UK), Fox Sports (AUS)

If things go as they look set to on paper, South Africa will have just their second home fixture of the tournament against an Australia side, both sides chasing second place behind a resolute New Zealand.

If that is to be the case, then it’s extremely likely the winner of this matchup will eventually clinch the runners-up spot.

However, in the off-chance that either Meyer or McKenzie manage to upset the odds in the earlier stages of the competition, one of these teams could very well lead the group heading to Cape Town.

In that instance, Australia will either step into the mixing pot of Newlands with the unenviable task of beating South Africa away from home, just as the Brumbies did against the Bulls last month.

Alternatively, it’ll be the Cape Town hosts who are leading in the penultimate week of the tournament and will have a good shot at seeing out the competition in front of two home crowds, starting their run-in against a strong Wallabies outfit.

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