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Dublin: 16 °C Tuesday 2 September, 2014

Same again? NZ’s Jo’Burg visit to provide Rugby Championship climax in 2014

The last meeting between the sides made for an all-time classic.

NEW ZEALAND WILL will open their Rugby Championship defence with a tough assignment against arch-rivals Australia in Sydney on August 16, the tournament’s governing body SANZAR announced today.

The All Blacks, who (just about) went through the season undefeated with a record 14 wins out of 14, remain the top-ranked team in international rugby and go into the tournament as firm favourites to retain their title.

If they manage to sweep England on home soil in June, a win against Australia at ANZ Stadium in Sydney would break the world record of 17 consecutive wins, currently shared by New Zealand (1965-69) and South Africa (1997-98).

In contrast, the Wallabies struggled in 2013, winning just two Rugby Championship games and losing eight out of 15 Tests during the year.

But they finished with a flourish on their European tour, beating Wales 30-26 in Cardiff on Saturday.

South Africa get their campaign underway against Argentina in Pretoria on the same day. The Springboks came close to unseating New Zealand in this year’s finale before succumbing 38-27  in a classic at Ellis Park – here’s a taster of that encounter.



YouTube credit: DeeBrev

“As New Zealand, Australia and South Africa end their European Tours as the world’s top three nations and with Argentina entrenched inside the top 10, The Rugby Championship continues to pit the best against the best,” said SANZAR chief Greg Peters.

“We couldn’t have hoped for a more thrilling culmination to this year’s edition of The Rugby Championship and 2014 promises to up the ante with the gap between champions and challengers narrowing with each contest.”

The competition, which was known as the Tri-Nations before Argentina joined in 2012, will feature six rounds.

Fixtures for the 2014 Rugby Championship (kick-off times yet to be confirmed):

Round 1 (Aug 16)

Sydney

Australia v New Zealand

Pretoria

South Africa v Argentina

Round 2 (Aug 23)

Auckland

New Zealand v Australia

TBC, Argentina

Argentina v South Africa

Round 3 (Sept 6)

Perth

Australia v South Africa

Napier

New Zealand v Argentina

Round 4 (Sept 13)

Gold Coast

Australia v Argentina

Wellington

New Zealand v South Africa

Round 5 (Sept 27)

Cape Town

South Africa v Australia

TBC, Argentina

Argentina v New Zealand

Round 6 (Oct 4)

Johannesburg

South Africa v New Zealand

TBC, Argentina

Argentina v Australia

- © AFP, 2013

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