SANZAAR, in association with its Member Unions, has announced the match schedule for The Rugby Championship 2021.
This year the tournament reverts back to its 12-match, four nations format. However, the match schedule has been amended to accommodate the ongoing effects of the pandemic, including continued international travel restrictions and government quarantine protocols that exist within the member union territories.
It was hoped in 2021 that The Rugby Championship (TRC), as announced last year, would comprise the four national teams playing each other on a home or away basis through a new mini-tour match schedule. However, the pandemic makes this impossible at present and the 12-match tournament will be played across South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. South Africa will host two matches while Australia and New Zealand will host five matches each.
The tournament is delighted to welcome back South Africa in 2021 which was unfortunately absent in 202 due to the pandemic. With the Springboks absent a six-match Tri-Nations tournament between Argentina, Australia and New Zealand was played solely in Australia.
SANZAAR CEO, Brendan Morris, stated, “We have worked tirelessly with the National Unions through the continued difficulties associated with the pandemic. This includes ongoing international border travel restrictions, quarantine protocols and player welfare concerns. Therefore, we have been unable to roll out the previously agreed mini-tour format as we simply cannot play matches in Argentina at present due to the impact of the pandemic. “
“Nonetheless, the exciting news is that we do welcome back South Africa to The Rugby Championship after a difficult 2020 when the pandemic made it impossible for them to participate. The Springboks are the reigning World Champions and it will be fantastic for rugby fans to see them play once again in this prestigious tournament.”
“As last year the Pumas will play all their matches away from home and we thank them once again for their understanding in this regard. The Pumas beat New Zealand for the first time in their history in last year’s Tri-Nations and drew both matches with Australia indicating what a strong and robust squad they possess.”
“This year’s agreed 12-match tournament format will see two matches played in South Africa, five in Australia and five in New Zealand. The South Africa-based matches will see Argentina play South Africa twice before both teams head to Australia and New Zealand for the remainder of the tournament,” added Morris.
In the lead up to The Rugby Championship Australia will host France in a three-match series, New Zealand will play Tonga and Fiji (two Tests), while South Africa host the British & Irish Lions in a highly anticipated three-match series. Argentina will play two tests against Wales, the reigning 6 Nations Champions. The ‘Third Bledisloe’ Cup match between Australia and New Zealand will also be played prior to the kick-off of TRC, when New Zealand will host Australia on Saturday 7 August.
TRC starts with a stand-alone Test Match on Saturday 14 August when South Africa host Argentina and finishes on Saturday 2 October with New Zealand playing South Africa and Argentina versus Australia. The match venues and kick-off times will be announced in due course.