Following in the footsteps of The Rugby Football Union comes the latest addition to the rugby calendar … Argentina join the Tri-Nations to compete in … The Rugby Championship!
At the least the English Rugby Union were the first union to be formed and can perhaps be excused the arrogance of leaving out the name of their union, but what tournament unveiled in 2011 can possibly command the title The Rugby Championship?
That one I might reserve for the team of the RWC taking on Pluto every four years …
So apart from the pompousness, it’s also pretty damn lame. Sure “Four Nations” is limiting as who knows what teams they will add to the tournament in the future, but there actually has to be a better name than this …
What about paying tribute to an all time great Southern hemisphere players like John Eales, Francois Pienaar, Colin Meads, David Campese, Sean Fitzpatrick or Victor Matfield? I can just imagine the squabbling amongst the three stooges about which country’s player should get the naming right though …
Even something slightly resembling in personality like “The Southern Cup” would be better, but this is just a straight cop out and the result is tragically boring …
I suppose no one would have jumped at the “ANAS Cup” …. Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa for those who could not work that one out …
So given the lameness and perhaps pompousness, you might expect a very fancy logo perhaps?
Erm … not really …
I am presuming there were serious budget cuts after the shortened tournament this year and SANZAR were forced to pay their agency in peanuts, hence the monkeys coming out to play …
I am thinking a little crowd sourcing – asking fans to come up with a name and a logo – in return for a few tickets to the games and a little recognition might have been the way to go …
Any ways, The Rugby Championship is what it is … And the Springboks will kick it off against the Pumas on August 18 next year. All credit to Castle for sticking with rugby and paying for the naming rights to the new tournament …
The new-look tournament has 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 participants.
The PR speak suggests that 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 CEO Greg Peters.
South African Rugby Union (SARU) CEO, Jurie Roux said: “It ensures a more logical and balanced Championship with fixtures and travel evened out across the region.”
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).
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.
I noted with a fair amount of interest, though, that no release went out suggesting a change in the SANZAR name to include Argentina … As Sports Illustrated’s “Online Guy” Gareth Rosslee pointed out on Twitter … I suppose ARSANZAR would not have received too many votes. So SANZAR are happy to have the Pumas as a toy to play with, but not quite ready to hand over any voting rights just yet …
To balance the additional travel requirements, the fixtures have been scheduled in two-week blocks with week-long travel byes in-between.
The Rugby Championship fixtures:
18 August 2012:
Australia vs New Zealand
South Africa vs Argentina
25 August 2012:
New Zealand vs Australia
Argentina vs South Africa
1 September 2012:
8 September 2012:
Australia vs South Africa
New Zealand vs Argentina
15 September 2012:
Australia vs Argentina
New Zealand vs South Africa
22 September 2012:
29 September 2012:
South Africa vs Australia
Argentina vs New Zealand
6 October 2012:
South Africa vs New Zealand
Argentina vs Australia
A SANZAR delegation will travel to Argentina in November on a fact-finding visit during which it will conduct venue inspections and hold discussions with the UAR, host broadcasters, sponsors and other key stakeholders to ensure the smooth transition from Tri-Nations to The Rugby Championship.
In SA, the tournament will be known as the Castle Rugby Championship …