UK rugby critic Stephen Jones has had another crack at the Rugby Championship ahead of Saturday's first match between the All Blacks and Australia.

Writing in the Sunday Times in London, Jones had labelled the competition "the second division of the global game".

He said "facts and not circumstantial evidence" backed up his claims, starting with the world rankings and he believed the All Blacks could be vulnerable on Saturday in Sydney.

New Zealand are an indisputable No 1 but it's a big drop to Australia at fifth, South Africa sixth and Argentina 10th. There was more solidity in the Six Nations teams that had world No 2 Ireland, third-placed Wales, fourth-placed England, No 7 France with Italy 14th.


"Ah well, those southern softies will catch up one day," said Jones.

"Naturally, we must exclude New Zealand from all criticism, as ever, as they are cruising along. The statistics are magnificent if you are Kiwi but not so good if you are trying to market the competition as a fierce event."

The Rugby Championship was in need of "proper contests".

"In six seasons the average attendance has dipped from just under 46,000 to just over 30,000, and if that carries on they will be playing in a phone box inside a decade.

"Argentina have won only three of their 33 games, a dreadful return after the momentum they brought with them on being admitted to the tournament."

Jones predicted a competitive World Cup next year.

"The signs are that come Japan 2019, New Zealand will not be the only team in the race but the next month or two must reveal proper contenders, second-ranking event or not.

"New Zealand will surely come out ahead but the world needs evidence that the demolishing of the black machine is on the horizon."