What is the Tri-Nations?
Rugby Union’s premier southern hemisphere competition
The Tri Nations is arguably the toughest rugby union tournament there is. Contested by the three top sides in the southern hemisphere (who are also consistently ranked among the top sides in the world) this makes for one major rugby tournament – rivaling even the Rugby Union World Cup.
Watched with keen interest by rugby fans in both the southern and northern hemisphere, Tri-Nations rugby is a high profile, high impact tournament. Here’s the realbuzz.com guide to the annual competition.
What is the Tri Nations?
The Tri Nations Cup is relatively recent addition to the rugby calendar, being contested for the first time in 1996 when South Africa, New Zealand and Australia locked horns in the three team competition. (Post-apartheid South Africa had only been re-admitted to international rugby in 1992). The New Zealand All Blacks have generally dominated the Tr- Nation, frequently coming out on top against both the Wallabies and the Springboks. The Tri-Nations is effectively the southern hemisphere’s own version of the northern hemisphere’s Six Nations.
What happens during the rugby tournament?
The series is played on a home-and-away basis, usually between July to September. From 1996-2005, the three teams played each other twice. Since then, each team has played the others three times, except when it is Rugby World Cup year, when the series reverts to a double round-robin (each side plays the others twice) in an attempt to reduce fixture congestion.
Since the inception of the series the games played between Australia and New Zealand also determine the winner of the Bledisloe Cup. New Zealand and South Africa contest the Freedom Cup, and the Mandela Challenge Plate is contested between Australia and South Africa.
Where do these rugby teams play?
With each of the teams playing three of their six games at home, they come up against one team twice at home and the other just once.
What scoring system is used in this rugby tournament?
The winner is determined by a points system based on the following:
- Win – 4 points
- Draw – 2 points
- Lose – 0 points
Bonus points can also be earned: an attacking bonus point by scoring four or more tries in the match and a defending bonus point by losing by seven points or less. It is therefore possible for a losing side to earn two bonus points. A winning side can only ever earn 5 points maximum (if they score four or more tries).
At the end of the series the team with the most points is declared the winner. If there is a tie (which has never happened yet) the Tri-Nations winners will be the team with the best tries scored/conceded points difference.
The future of the Tri- Nations rugby tournament
The Tri-Nations will become the Four Nations with Argentina joining the competition from 2012. Initially, this is a four-year arrangement but could be extended if it proves a success. There have also been rumours about a Pacific Islands team being included in future too, but nothing has yet been agreed.