The Southern Hemisphere's premier International Rugby competition which includes Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The competition was called the Tri-Nations until 2011 when Argentina joined.
8th November 2011
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Argentina was confirmed alongside South Africa, New Zealand and Australia to play from 2012 in “The Rugby Championship” – the exciting and ground-breaking replacement for the Tri-Nations series.
After several months of negotiations with the Unión Argentina de Rugby (UAR) and the International Rugby Board (IRB), the SANZAR Joint Venture partners have invited Argentina to join the tournament. An agreement confirming Argentina’s participation was signed in Auckland.
“The invitation to Argentina to join the Championship is a defining moment for Southern Hemisphere rugby and significant for world rugby,”
“The regular participation of Argentina at a higher level is long overdue and we are excited about their inclusion in The Rugby Championship. Playing in the Championship will have significant benefits for Argentinian rugby as a whole and will bring new energy to the jewel in the crown of SANZAR."
“The Pumas, as they showed at the recent Rugby World Cup, play an exciting and different brand of rugby to the other three teams, which will definitely add a new dimension,”
“The Rugby Championship is an annual contest between the ‘best-of-the-best’ in world rugby - nations who have won six of the seven Rugby World Cups”
- SANZAR CEO, Greg Peters.
The new name of The Rugby Championship reflects its claim to be the ultimate contest, featuring teams that are currently ranked first, second, fourth and seventh in the world. The President of the UAR, Luis Castillo, has described his country’s inclusion as an historic moment for rugby in Argentina.
“The Argentine Rugby Union and Argentinean rugby community is proud to be part of this great tournament,” he said. “We will work to maintain high standards in our rugby, with our ultimate goal being to keep generating resources for the development of rugby at the clubs”
- President of the UAR, Luis Castillo
“For years Argentinean Rugby has been seeking to participate regularly in a tournament like this. Playing in The Rugby Championship makes us really proud and will compel us to work harder at what we are doing. We must celebrate being part of this tournament”
- UAR High Performance Chairman, Manuel Galindo
Argentina’s participation in The Rugby Championship has been welcomed by the SANZAR Joint Venture partners.
"Argentina is a proud rugby nation and their passionate charge to the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup in 2007 was certainly a feature of that tournament in France."
"They have waited a long time to play in a regular competition at the highest level and their inclusion into The Rugby Championship from 2012 provides that opportunity."
"The expansion of the Championship, following this year's new-look format for Super Rugby with the addition of a 15th team in the Melbourne Rebels, is also further proof that SANZAR continues to be the innovative leader of the international game."
"We have come a long way since the professional era dawned with a Super 12 competition and a two-round Tri-Nations series between the Wallabies, All Blacks and Springboks."
"Our international footprint has been significantly increased at both Super Rugby and Test level and the launching of The Rugby Championship next year will be the latest exciting chapter in the ongoing evolution of SANZAR."
- Australian Rugby Union (ARU) Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill
“This is a significant moment in the history of Southern Hemisphere rugby and marks the launching pad to a dramatically changed landscape."
“The inclusion of South Africa’s old friends from Argentina is a great day for rugby and recognises the rich history and passion for the sport in the rugby community in that country."
“It will add a new flavour and dimension to SANZAR rugby and offers the prospect of promoting rugby in other South American nations."
“It also ensures a more logical and balanced Championship with fixtures and travel evened out across the region.”
- South African Rugby Union (SARU) CEO, Jurie Roux
“The 2011 Rugby World Cup demonstrated exactly how exciting matches between our four countries can be."
“Argentina fully deserves to be part of the best annual rugby competition in the world and their presence in the Championship – as well as the inclusion of Sevens rugby in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro – help the global expansion of the game."
“Outside of the Rugby World Cup, the Pumas last played in New Zealand in June 2004. As we saw during the tournament, their colourful and lively fans will be sure to add something special to The Rugby Championship."
“This Championship will ensure fans get to see more of the outstanding, hard hitting and exciting rugby for which our SANZAR nations are known as well as the flair and unpredictable style of rugby that Argentina is sure to bring”
- CEO of the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU), Steve Tew
“Argentinean rugby as a whole should be proud of this achievement.”
“After many years of history and the hard work of many generations of players on and off the pitch, Argentinean rugby will be part of the toughest and most prestigious tournament in the Southern Hemisphere,”
- Former Pumas scrumhalf, Agustin Pichot, the UAR’s SANZAR Representative who has led its negotiations with SANZAR
31st May, 2012
Fixtures finalized (see below).
ANZAR CEO Greg Peters said it was exciting to enter a bold new chapter into rugby history, "with the long anticipated introduction of the Pumas into the world"'s best international competition, The Rugby Championship."
"The original Tri-Nations combatants have won six of the seven Rugby World Cups, while Argentina is a side that has proved its capabilities during Rugby World Cups," Peters added.
"Since the Tri-Nations began in 1996, Argentina has beaten England, France, Ireland, Scotland and Australia; and it is exciting to see one of the biggest developments for international rugby in South America.
"The passion and excitement of the Pumas"' style of play and that their fans exhibit will bring a totally new dimension to our pre-eminent international tournament."
The Rugby Championship"'s debut season kicks off on 18 August with the Wallabies hosting the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, while later that evening the Pumas will visit DHL Newlands for the first time, playing the Springboks to make their tournament entry.
Auckland, Mendoza, Perth, Wellington, the Gold Coast, Dunedin, Pretoria and La Plata round out the locations for the six-round, eight-week competition, with the final match to be played at the near 95,000-seat FNB Stadium in Soweto, where the Springboks will look to avenge their thrilling 29-22 loss to the All Blacks in 2010.
Notably there are two bye weeks to allow for travel in what will be arguably the toughest international tournament in world rugby, outside of the Rugby World Cup.
"The Pumas"' introduction and location ensures that there will be tough travelling schedules for all involved," Peters said.
"To balance this, the fixtures have been scheduled in three two-week blocks with week-long travel byes in between."
Rugby World Cup-winning former All Black coach Graham Henry has insisted that he can take Argentina to another level as they prepare for the Rugby Championship.
Henry has been appointed technical consultant to the Pumas, who will compete for the first time in the Rugby Championships - formerly the Tri-Nations - against New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
"Argentina are faced with a very important challenge but we need this in order to improve because we can't improve by playing the weakest, we need to play the strongest,"
"My job with the coaches is to exchange ideas, and help them improve their game," explained Henry, who led the All Blacks for seven years but stepped down after leading them to glory at last year's World Cup on home soil.
"I'm going to work five weeks here, another two in New Zealand and Australia. I would like to help more but I have my family and they are at present by main responsibility."
- Graham Henry, former New Zealand and Wales coach.
Henry's role will be to work closely for seven weeks with head coach Santiago Phelan during preparations for international matches.
The 65-year-old, who was previously known as 'The Great Redeemer' for his work during four years with Wales, explained that his love of the game had been too much for him just to retire.
"Rugby is in my blood. Coaching is like a disease. I like coaching and I like the game. Argentina is a challenge and I enjoy a challenge. I also respect the people here. They are good people, good rugby people, so this is also a privilege for me."
"I think that Argentinian rugby is in good shape, as they did well in the last two World Cups."
"We've begun a process, and I'm impressed with all the information that I've received from the coaches. I hope that my ideas will be useful and allow them to continue to improve."
"This tournament is a big opportunity. We could feel inhibited but we could also give our best."
Praising the Puma "character, personality and fighting spirit", he added: "they defend very well, they only need to score more tries, that's all."
- Graham Henry, former New Zealand and Wales coach.
Phelan added: "It's with pride that Graham helps us. The Pumas staff are very keen to show him how we work so that he can give us his vision and apply his concepts."
The Pumas will play their inaugural Four Nations match against South Africa, on August 25, at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in the western city of Mendoza.
SANZAR confirmed the draw for the inaugural edition of The Rugby Championship in 2012, which saw each side facing the others twice – home and away – for a total of 12 matches.
The 2012 Championship kicked-off on 18 August 2012 and concluded on 6 October 2012.
To balance the additional travel requirements, the fixtures were scheduled in two-week blocks with week-long travel byes in-between. This ensured there was adequate recovery time for the teams.
A SANZAR delegation travelled to Argentina in November on a fact-finding visit to conduct venue inspections and hold discussions with the UAR, host broadcasters and other key stakeholders to ensure the smooth transition from Tri-Nations to The Rugby Championship.
The winner is determined by a points system:
- 4 points for a win
- 2 points for a draw
- 0 points for a loss
Bonus points may also be earned and count toward deciding the series winner. A maximum of two bonus points can be obtained:
- The Attacking bonus point by scoring four or more tries in the match, regardless of the final result.
- The Defending bonus point by losing by seven points or less.
|06 OCT 2012||Argentina v Australia||19 - 25||Estadio Gigante de arroyito, Rosario|
|06 OCT 2012||South Africa v New Zealand||16 - 32||FNB Stadium, Soweto|
|29 SEP 2012||Argentina v New Zealand||15 - 54||Estadio Ciudad de La Plata|
|29 SEP 2012||South Africa v Australia||31 - 08||Loftus Versfeld|
|15 SEP 2012||Australia v Argentina||23 - 19||Skilled Park|
|15 SEP 2012||New Zealand v South Africa||21 - 11||Forsyth Barr Stadium|
|08 SEP 2012||Australia v South Africa||26 - 19||Subiaco Oval|
|08 SEP 2012||New Zealand v Argentina||21 - 05||Westpac Stadium|
|25 AUG 2012||Argentina v South Africa||16 - 16||Estadio Malvinas Argentinas|
|25 AUG 2012||New Zealand v Australia||22 - 00||Eden Park|
|18 AUG 2012||South Africa v Argentina||27 - 06||Newlands Rugby Stadium|
|18 AUG 2012||Australia v New Zealand||19 - 27||ANZ Stadium|