Cape Town - The Springboks will kick-off
against the Pumas when the all-new “The Castle Rugby Championship” launches in
2012 – the exciting and ground-breaking replacement for the Tri-Nations series,
SANZAR announced on Tuesday.
An agreement confirming
Argentina’s participation was signed in Auckland recently by the SANZAR Joint
Venture partners after several months of negotiations with the Unión Argentina
de Rugby (UAR) and the International Rugby Board (IRB).
The new-look tournament has been
given a new name and a new fixture line-up with two Tests on each match day.
Each participant plays home and away matches against each of the other three
The Boks open their inaugural
Castle Rugby Championship campaign against the Pumas in South Africa on August
18 before taking part in the first Castle Rugby Championship match on the South
American continent a week later. The match venues will be announced in due
“The invitation to Argentina to
join the Championship is a defining moment for Southern Hemisphere rugby and
significant for world rugby,” said SANZAR CEO, Greg Peters.
“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,” Peters said.
The new name of The Castle 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 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,” said Peters.
South African Rugby Union (SARU)
CEO, Jurie Roux said: “This is a significant moment in the history of Southern
Hemisphere rugby and marks the launching pad to a dramatically changed
“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
The Springboks travel east at the
beginning of September as they undertake back-to-back matches against Australia
and New Zealand before concluding The Castle Rugby Championship with home
matches against the Wallabies (September 29) and All Blacks (October 6).
The President of the UAR, Luis
Castillo, 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.”
The CEO of the New Zealand Rugby
Union (NZRU), Steve Tew said: “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.“
Australian Rugby Union (ARU)
Managing Director and CEO, John O’Neill said: "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."
Former Pumas scrumhalf, Agustin
Pichot, the UAR’s SANZAR Representative who has led its negotiations with
SANZAR, said 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,” Pichot said.
SANZAR has confirmed the draw for
the inaugural edition of The Rugby Championship in 2012, which sees each side
facing the other twice – home and away – for a total of 12 matches.
The 2012 Championship will
kick-off on 18 August 2012 and conclude on 6 October 2012.
“Adding another country will have
an impact on the travel schedules,” Peters said.
“To balance the additional travel
requirements, the fixtures have been scheduled in two-week blocks with
week-long travel byes in-between. This will ensure there is adequate recovery
time for the teams,” he said.
The Rugby Championship
Australia vs New Zealand
South Africa vs Argentina
New Zealand vs Australia
Argentina vs South Africa
2012: Travel Bye
2012: Australia vs South
New Zealand vs Argentina
2012: Australia vs Argentina
New Zealand vs South Africa
2012: Travel Bye
2012: South Africa vs Australia
Argentina vs New Zealand
South Africa vs New Zealand
Argentina vs Australia