There have been noises out of the United Kingdom that the Rugby Championship is a poor man's Six Nations and all but broken.

Two weeks into this year's tournament and the first part of that assessment has been proven to be obviously not true, but the second part is becoming harder to refute.

The northern nations can tell themselves whatever they like about the quality of rugby they see in the southern hemisphere, but they would be ill-advised to ignore the pace and intensity all four teams are capable of producing.

The Rugby Championship produces a different type of rugby to the Six Nations. Not uniformly, but mostly the games down here are faster and confrontational in different areas.


They tend to open up more as all four teams, even South Africa, tend to be more willing to play wider more regularly and often the games are brilliantly free-flowing and absorbing.

The mind-sets are different in this part of the world where there isn't an endemic culture of scrummaging for penalties and making the set-piece the key battleground.

That doesn't make the Rugby Championship technically or physically inferior or the cappuccino to the Six Nations' double espresso.

It's a moot point to wonder how Ireland might have fared at Eden Park on Saturday night, other than to suggest that the Wallabies shouldn't be judged too harshly.

They have enough resilience and physical standing to be confident they can bounce back and take a few scalps in the remainder of the year.

They are not a bad side – something that will become clearer by November when it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see them beat England at Twickenham.

Nor should it get lost that South Africa cleaned up England in June and yet were made to look one-paced against a Pumas side that may indeed have come a long way in a short time under the astute guidance of new coach Mario Ledesma.

But the Rugby Championship does have a problem selling itself as a genuine four-horse race.

Australia coach Michael Ceika. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Australia coach Michael Ceika. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Just two rounds in and can anyone really see there being any other winner than the All Blacks?

They are on a different level and if they get their feet back on the ground quickly after Eden Park, knuckle down to some hard work in Nelson and Wellington and play to their potential, they will most likely win their next two tests against the Pumas and Springboks.

And this is the issue at the moment – if the All Blacks get it right, none of the other three can live with them and already we are facing the prospect that once again, the All Blacks will have either won, or will all but have won their third consecutive title with two rounds remaining.

This was the story in 2016 and 2017 and also, not quite as emphatically, in 2012 and 2014. Only once have the All Blacks played their last Rugby Championship game with the title still on the line.

That was in 2013 when they played a winner takes-all, last game decider at Ellis Park, where the Boks could have snatched the title had they won with a bonus point.

A competition without a genuine element of surprise – something other than the Pumas snatching the occasional victory – lacks an engrossing element.

The problem with the Rugby Championship is that the rugby has spectacle, but not so much drama.

It lacks intrigue, not so much in each individual contest, but more in the context of how everything is piecing together in the overall race for the title.

That's the Six Nations' advantage – that it tends to throw out more unexpected storylines and doesn't have such an underlying sense of things operating to a pre-determined script.

None of this should be blamed on the All Blacks. They shouldn't be expected to dumb themselves down or give up on their pursuit of excellence just to liven things up.

Their standards are theirs to keep and grow and for others to meet. The onus is on the Wallabies, Pumas and Springboks to close the gap and find a way to be more consistent.