South Africa returns with rugby championship schedule announced
SYDNEY (Reuters) – World champion South Africa will return to the rugby championship this year, but it’s not quite back to normal for the Southern Hemisphere Tryout Championship, said the governing body SANZAAR by announcing the meetings on Friday.
The 2020 tournament was played entirely in Australia and renamed the Tri-Nations after the Springboks pulled out amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
South Africa will host two matches against Argentina in this year’s tournament, with the remaining 10 matches split evenly between Australia and New Zealand.
“We just cannot play matches in Argentina right now due to the impact of the pandemic,” SANZAAR chief Brendan Morris said in a statement.
“Nonetheless, the exciting news is that we welcome South Africa to the rugby championship after a difficult 2020 when the pandemic prevented them from participating.
“Like last year, the Pumas will play all of their away matches and we thank them once again for their understanding in this regard.”
Argentina had a remarkable campaign last year, coming out of lockdown and quarantine to beat the All Blacks for the first time and draw twice with the Wallabies.
The tournament opens on August 14 with the Springboks, who will be toughened up after welcoming tourists from the British and Irish Lions, taking on Argentina in South Africa and ending with the final two tests on October 2.
Australia will open their campaign in the traditional fashion with back-to-back matches against New Zealand, the first on August 21 in Perth and returning to Wellington the following week.
These two matches will be dubbed as a Bledisloe Cup contest with another test outside the Rugby Championship at Eden Park in Auckland on August 7, opening the annual Trans-Tasman Series.
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Peter Rutherford)