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Rugby Championship: Dates, schedule, teams, history & betting odds

The Rugby Championship may be small but it is perfectly formed and brings together four rugby powerhouses, all vying to be kings of the southern hemisphere.

Traditionally taking place annually from July until early September, the tournament is an expansion of the old Tri-Nations and features New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina.

The 2023 edition of the competition will be slimmed-down due to the Rugby World Cup but is unlikely to be any less fast-paced or hard-hitting.

What2023 Rugby Championship
WhereNew Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Argentina
WhenSaturday, July 8th – Saturday, July 23rd
How to watchSky Sports
OddsNew Zealand 4/6, South Africa 2/1, Australia 13/2, Argentina 25/1

History of the Rugby Championship

The southern hemisphere’s answer to the Six Nations came into existence in the early days of the professional era with the formation of the Tri-Nations in 1995.

An agreement between the respective unions from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, saw the creation of SANZAR, a body made up of the CEOs from its respective nations. 

In 1995, they proposed not only the club rugby tournament now known as Super Rugby but an international competition between the three founding members. 

New Zealand, South Africa and Australia would contest the first Tri-Nations in 1996 and it wasn’t until 2012 that the competition was expanded when Argentina joined. 

The tournament was renamed the Rugby Championship with the addition of the Pumas and there has been a suggestion of Japan and Fiji joining the party from 2026 onwards.

How does the Rugby Championship work?

The Rugby Championship traditionally sees all four teams play each other twice, home and away, with teams awarded four points for a win, two for a draw and none for a defeat. 

Two bonus points are on offer in each match with an attacking bonus point available if a team scores three tries or more, while there’s another bonus point up for grabs for teams losing by seven points or less. 

This year’s Rugby Championship format is a little different with the teams only playing each other once to allow for a sufficient break before the World Cup starts in September.

Who are the Rugby Championship’s most successful team?

The Tri-Nations and Rugby Championship have been dominated by New Zealand, who have won a combined total of 19 titles between the two competitions. 

The All Blacks have won all but two Rugby Championship crowns since its formation with South Africa and Australia winning one apiece, both in Rugby World Cup years. 

The Springboks, who won three Tri-Nations crowns, were the last side to stop New Zealand from winning the Rugby Championship in 2019, while Australia clinched the title in 2015, to go with three Tri Nations titles.

Argentina are yet to win the title and have collected the Wooden Spoon in all but one year.

Who won the 2022 Rugby Championship? 

The 2022 Rugby Championship was arguably the most competitive edition of the tournament to date with only 10 points separating first and fourth and every team recording at least two wins.

New Zealand were beaten twice, including a first-ever home loss to Argentina, but a bonus-point win over Australia in the final round saw them retain their title by one point from South Africa.

When is the 2023 Rugby Championship?

This year’s Rugby Championship will last only three weeks to allow for a period of rest before the World Cup. It all kicks off on Saturday, July 8th with South Africa against Australia, followed by Argentina hosting New Zealand that evening.

Round two takes place on Saturday, July 15th and features New Zealand versus South Africa and Australia against Argentina. 

The tournament wraps up on July 29th with the All Blacks heading to Australia before South Africa and Argentina collide.

Where is the 2023 Rugby Championship?

Given the teams are only playing three games this year, the number of home and away matches is split unevenly. 

South Africa and Australia have the advantage of playing twice at home with the Springboks playing in Pretoria and Johannesburg. The Wallabies will stage their games in Sydney and Melbourne. 

Argentina’s sole home game takes place in Mendoza, while the All Blacks face South Africa in Auckland.

What 2023 Rugby Championship games are on TV?

Sky Sports have secured the rights to show the Rugby Championship with the first two games to be broadcast on their Sky Sports Action channel.

Who are the favourites to win the 2023 Rugby Championship?

They might only be playing one game at home, but New Zealand are the odds-on favourites to collect their ninth Rugby Championship title at 4/6.

However, as last year’s tournament showed, Ian Foster’s men are not unbeatable and the last two shortened editions of the Rugby Championship have seen the All Blacks miss out on the top prize.

South Africa are 2/1 to dethrone New Zealand having come within a point of winning the title last year, while Australia, under new head coach Eddie Jones, are 13/2

25/1 shots Argentina face an arduous task if they are to break their Rugby Championship duck given they’ll only play once at home. But the Pumas have shown signs of improvement recently, winning away in New Zealand, England and Wales in the last 12 months.

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