Previously the Tri-Nations Cup, with New Zealand, Australia and South Africa, from 2012 Argentina was added to make a 4 team Southern Hemisphere competition.
The usual format was 6 rounds, with each team playing the other twice on a home and away basis. The winner is the top ranked team at the end of the competition.
Sponsorship deals mean that the Championship will have different names in each country:
The History of The Rugby Championship
The Rugby Championship is the latest format of what was the Tri-Nations Cup. This competition started in 1996 with the advent of professional rugby. There were 3 teams involved - New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.
From 1996 until 2005 the format was for each team to play the other twice on a home and away basis.
In 2006 the format was changed to 3 matches against each other team.
In 2007, due to the Rugby World Cup, the Tri-Series reverted back to a 2 match home and away format again.
From 2008 to 2010 the format was again changed to each team playing the others 3 times.
In 2011, again due to the Rugby World Cup, the series was reduced to 2 matches, home and away.
In 2012, 2013 and 2014, with the addition of Argentina, 4 teams will play each other on a home and away basis again.
In 2015, with the Rugby World Cup due to be played, each team played the other teams once.
In 2016, the format reverted to 6 rounds, each team playing the other home and away. A change was also made to the bonus points system. Instead of a bonus point for four or more tries, a bonus point would be awarded for scoring 3 more tries than the opposition in a match. This format was retained for 2017 and 2018.
In 2019, with the Rugby World Cup due to be played, each team played the other teams once.
In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic meant a delayed competition and then South Africa pulled out, citing a lack of preparation time as they had only returned to playing in early October. This led to a 3 team competition in which each team played the other teams twice. It was based in Australia.