The Rugby Championship (TRC) is one of the pre-eminent international rugby union competitions in world rugby. It is contested annually by Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. It is owned and managed by SANZAAR.
SANZAAR is an incorporated Joint Venture between the four participating national unions and its head office is located in Sydney, Australia.
Prior to the 2012 tournament, when Argentina entered The Rugby Championship, it was known as the Tri Nations. The inaugural Tri Nations tournament was in 1996, and was won by New Zealand. South Africa won its first title in 1998, and Australia its first in 2000.
The new expanded TRC (2012-2021) comprised a round robin format in which all the teams (Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) played each other home and away. The first Championship (2012) was won by New Zealand, who won all six of their matches. Australia won the 2015 TRC which was shortened due to the Rugby World Cup being played later in the year. Indeed in a Rugby World Cup year the format comprises an abbreviated tournament with the teams playing each other once home or away.
New Zealand, Australia and South Africa have frequently been ranked among the top rugby nations in the world with New Zealand and South Africa winning the tournament three times each, with Australia winning it twice.
Argentina has been ranked as high as third in the official World Rankings and has twice reached the Rugby World Cup semi-finals.
Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 the Springboks were unable to participate in The Rugby Championship that was set to be hosted in Australia. In its place SANZAAR delivered a Tri-Nations tournament between Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.
SANZAAR confirmed in June 2022 that the 12-match schedule for The Rugby Championship (TRC) would comprise an innovative 'mini-tour' format that is a departure from the previous home and away structure that had been in place since 2012 when Argentina joined Australia, New Zealand and South Africa to create The Rugby Championship.
Each team will still play six matches comprising three home matches and three away matches, and will play each team twice. However, each team will host a two-match tour, will play an away two-match tour and a one-match home and away series against the third team. For example, in 2022 New Zealand will host Argentina for two consecutive matches, will play two consecutive matches in South Africa and will play Australia once at home and once away. This format will see the two-match 'mini tour' home and away hosting rotate over a two-year period. Australia and New Zealand will always play a split home and away series, as will South Africa and Argentina.
The mini-tour concept is locked in until the end of 2025 and SANZAAR and the national unions believe this new format will excite fans by bringing back rugby's traditional touring values and make for an even more exciting Championship. The format will also reduce the travel component of TRC, therefore, alleviating player welfare concerns and the amount of travel teams have to undertake.