Rugby Championship: A beginner’s guide to the southern hemisphere’s premier competition
As the rugby calendar rolls on with the Six Nations in full swing, the giants of the southern hemisphere are slowly preparing for their own tournament, with the Rugby Championship set to begin in July.
To get all fans ready for when the finest countries in the south lock heads, Planet Rugby takes a deeper look at everything to do with the tournament.
What is the Rugby Championship?
The Rugby Championship is an annual international rugby union competition contested by Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. These teams are the highest-ranked Test sides in the southern hemisphere, and prior to Argentina joining in 2012, the competition was known as the Tri-Nations.
The first Tri-Nations was held in 1996, where New Zealand prevailed in the inaugural season. Since then, the All Blacks have gone on to claim the most titles, winning 19 out of 26.
When is the Rugby Championship?
The Rugby Championship normally takes place from August to September/October. However, this year, the tournament will run from July 8 to July 29.
The competition is typically shown on Sky Sports in the United Kingdom.
How do the Rugby Championship work?
All of the teams play each other twice every year, on a home and away basis. The competition is decided on a points system: four points for a win, two points for a draw and nothing for a loss.
Bonus points can be won in any given match if a team scores three more tries than their opponent or if a side loses by a margin of seven points or less.
In the Rugby World Cup years, the Rugby Championship still takes place, but the schedule is shortened to one fixture against all the other teams.
Who has won the most Rugby Championship titles?
To rugby fanatics, it may come as no surprise that New Zealand has won the most titles. Out of the 26 competitions that have been held, the All Blacks have won 19 titles.
Behind the front runners, the Wallabies and Springboks are tied on four titles each. Meanwhile, Argentina is yet to win a title since joining the Tri-Nations in 2012.
The Rugby Championship statistics
Legendary Springbok Bryan Habana is the competition’s all-time try scorer with 21 tries. The former World Rugby Player of the Year is followed by several New Zealanders who occupy all the spots from second to sixth on the try scorers’ list.
Like the Six Nations, multiple trophies are up for grabs throughout the Rugby Championship.
· The Bledisloe Cup – awarded to the series winner of New Zealand vs Australia.
· The Nelson Mandela Challenge Plate – awarded to the series winner of Australia vs South Africa.
· The Freedom Cup – awarded to the series winner of New Zealand vs South Africa.
· The Puma Trophy – awarded to the series winner of Argentina vs Australia.
READ MORE: Six Nations: A look into the history of Rugby’s Greatest Championship
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