SYDNEY (AP) — South Africa is back and the Rugby Championship is once again a four-country tournament including Australia, Argentina and New Zealand.
Tournament organizer SANZAAR said Friday that this year's tournament beginning with the Springboks hosting Argentina on Aug. 14 would revert to a 12-match, four-country format.
However, it said the match schedule was amended to take into account the ongoing effects of the coronavirus pandemic, including continued international travel restrictions and government quarantine protocols in the four countries.
SANZAAR said South Africa will host two matches while Australia and New Zealand will host five matches each.
“We have worked tirelessly with the national unions through the continued difficulties associated with the pandemic," SANZAAR chief executive Brenda Morris said in a statement. “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.
The six-match 2020 Rugby Championship, held solely in Australia, was won by New Zealand.
Not all of the venues for matches this season have been announced, although New Zealand will play World Cup-champion South Africa at Dunedin on Sept. 25, the 100th anniversary of the first match between the two teams in 1921.
“I can’t wait for that one,” All Blacks coach Ian Foster said Friday. “All the memories of big test matches, it’s hard to look past South Africa – even the ones I’ve been involved in, some of those games have been huge.
“There’s something about it. There seems to be a mutual respect for the two nations that brings the most out in us. To be part of the chance to remember a bit of history will be pretty cool."
Among other matches, Rugby Australia said Perth, Western Australia will be the site of the New Zealand-Wallabies match on Aug. 21 and that Brisbane will host South Africa and the Wallabies on Sept. 18.
Saturday, Aug. 14: South Africa vs. Argentina in South Africa (venue TBD)
Saturday, Aug. 21: Argentina vs, Springboks in South Africa (venue TBD); Australia vs. New Zealand at Perth, Australia.
Saturday Aug. 28: New Zealand vs. Australia at Wellington, New Zealand.
Saturday, Sept. 4: bye week.
Saturday, Sept. 11: New Zealand vs Argentina at Auckland, New Zealand; Australia vs. South Africa, Australia (venue TBD)
Saturday Sept. 18: Argentina vs. New Zealand at Wellington; Australia vs South Africa at Brisbane.
Saturday, Sept. 25: New Zealand vs. South Africa at Dunedin; Australia vs. Argentina in Australia (venue TBD).
Saturday, Oct. 2: South Africa vs. New Zealand at Auckland; Argentina vs. Australia in Australia (venue TBD).
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The Associated Press