With the 2019 Rugby World Cup, held this year in Japan, getting underway in exactly two months, the world's fifth and sixth-ranked teams, per World Rugby, open a shortened version of the eighth annual Rugby Championship — a tournament for the sport's four top Southern Hemisphere teams. This year, South Africa hosts Australia in what will be the only meeting of the two in the competition, as all four teams will face each other only once, rather than the usual home-and-away format.
With the World Cup looming, the main question hanging over this year's Championship is whether each team's coaches will be playing for the trophy, or simply to keep their players healthy, as Sky Sports noted. The first indication comes Saturday, in a test match that will live stream from Johannesburg.
To find out how to watch a live stream of the opening Rugby Championship test match pitting South Africa against Australia, see the streaming information at the bottom of this article. The match kicks off at 5 p.m. South Africa Time on Saturday, July 20, at the iconic 62,500-seat Ellis Park Stadium — now known for sponsorship reasons as Emirates Airline Park — in Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, South Africa.
In Australia, the match gets underway at 1 p.m. Eastern Australia Standard Time on Sunday, July 21, 11 p.m. Western on Saturday. In New Zealand, that start time will be 3 a.m. Sunday New Zealand Standard Time, and in Argentina, the live stream starts at noon Argentina Time. Fans in the United States can catch the South Africa vs. Australia rugby test at 11 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Saturday, 8 a.m. Pacific.
Springboks Coach Rassie Erasmus told Sky that his squad for Saturday's showdown against the Wallabies will be without fly-half Handre Pollard, Number 8 Duane Vermeulen, and hooker Malcolm Marx, as well as other regulars who have already been sent to New Zealand in anticipation of the game against the three-times-running Championship winners, the All-Blacks.
On the other hand, the Wallabies need to build as much confidence as they can ahead of the Rugby World Cup, with their opening match against Fiji coming on September 21. In 2018, Australia managed only four wins from 13 international tests.
"We do want to build momentum and we've been committed to the way we've been trying to play at training and it's been tough to train that way against people that know your own moves," Wallabies Skipper Michael Hooper told Fox Sports. "The good thing about getting into the game and the momentum you speak about is you get to try those against another team and it sets you up for games in the coming weeks."
To watch a free live stream of the South Africa vs. Australia Saturday 2019 Rugby Championship opener, use the stream provided by ESPN+, the online subscription service of sports media network ESPN. The ESPN+ streaming network subscription requires a fee of $4.99 per month but also includes a seven-day free trial period, giving fans an opportunity to watch the Springboks vs. Wallabies rugby union test match at no charge.
The South Africa-based Super Sport network will broadcast and live stream the match in the host country, while fans in Australia can watch a live stream via Kayo Sports. Kayo also requires a subscription fee, but comes with a 14-day free trial. Foxtel also will live stream the South Africa vs. Australia Rugby Championship match in Australia.
In New Zealand, Sky Go New Zealand will live stream the Rugby Championship match, and in Argentina ESPN Scrum TV will cover the game. The game will also live stream on Sky Sports Action in the United Kingdom.