Investec Super Rugby | Test Matches | Investec Tri Nations | International Trophies | Rugby World Cup
Investec Super Rugby is a professional, franchise-based regional competition featuring teams and players from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. It takes place in the early part of the southern hemisphere season, prior to the commencement of Test matches and other internationals.
The competition was devised in 1995 as a result of rugby’s shift to professionalism: Super Rugby formed a significant part of the package of broadcasting rights sold by SANZAR to News Corporation and, in New Zealand and Australia, provided a response to the threat of rugby league’s lucrative opportunities.
Earlier tournaments, including various South Pacific championships, CANZ series (involving teams from Canada, Argentina and New Zealand), Super Six and Super 10 competitions, took place at the same time of year and involved many of the same teams.
New Zealand has five Franchises playing in Investec Super Rugby: (from north to south) the Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders. In a move that was unique to New Zealand but has since been adopted by South Africa, each Investec Super Rugby Franchise represents a regional bloc of Provincial Unions.
Australia has five teams participating: the ACT Brumbies, New South Wales Waratahs, Queensland Reds, Western Force and the Melbourne Rebels. South Africa provides five teams: the Pretoria-based Bulls, Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs, Johannesburg-based Lions, Durban-based Sharks and Cape Town-based Stormers.
The inaugural tournament, featuring 12 teams, took place in 1996 and was won by the Blues. In total, New Zealand teams have won ten Super Rugby titles, including seven by the Crusaders and three by the Blues.
Originally known as the Super 12, Super Rugby moved to 14 teams in 2006, with the addition of the fourth Australian and fifth South African teams.
The Super Rugby competition expanded to 15 teams in 2011, with the addition of a fifth team from Australia.
A new three-Conference system took place where the five teams within each country made up nationally-based Conferences and play their four "local" rivals on a home and away basis (eight games in total).
They also played four of the other five teams in each of the other two Conferences on a home or away basis (another eight games).
Click here to visit the official Investec Super Rugby page on allblacks.com.
A Test match is generally considered to be a first-class match between the senior ‘A’ teams of two nations. However, each national union has the discretion to grant a match Test status and bestow Test caps on the players who take part. For example, the NZRU did not recognise as Tests early internationals between the All Blacks and countries like Canada, Italy and Japan. Conversely, the NZRU recognises as Tests the All Blacks’ three matches against the World XV in 1992 while the Scotland RFU, for one, does not.
The All Blacks played in their first Test match in 1903, against Australia at the SCG in Sydney. Since then, the All Blacks have played in more than 400 Test matches, with a success rate greater than 70 percent. Click here for the All Blacks’ full Test record.
Generally, the All Blacks play in three phases of Test matches each year. During the June international Test window, New Zealand usually hosts one or more touring teams, often from northern hemisphere nations. The Investec Tri Nations tournament sees the All Blacks play against fellow southern hemisphere powers Australia and South Africa. Finally, the All Blacks travel to the northern hemisphere on an end-of-year tour during the November international Test window, playing several matches in Europe or North America.
Click here to view the All Blacks’ Test match record on allblacks.com.
The Investec Tri Nations is an annual Test series featuring the All Blacks, Australia and South Africa. With all three teams consistently ranked among the best in the world, the Investec Tri Nations title represents southern hemisphere superiority and bestows all-important bragging rights.
Like Investec Super Rugby, the Tri Nations tournament was established by SANZAR in 1995, following the advent of professionalism in rugby. Since the first competition in 1996, the All Blacks have won 10 Tri Nations titles.
Originally a series of home-and-away fixtures for each team, the Tri Nations expanded in 2006 to include a third round of matches.
While every All Blacks Test match is significant, a series of international trophies bring an added focus to some matches or series. Among the most significant are the Bledisloe Cup, Freedom Cup and Dave Gallaher Cup.
The Bledisloe Cup is contested between New Zealand and Australia, and is presented to the winner of the annual series between the two teams. In the event of a drawn series, the holder retains the trophy. Widely known simply as “the Bledisloe”, the cup was first presented to the NZRU in 1931 by the Governor-General Lord Bledisloe, Patron of the NZRU. While the Bledisloe Cup has been contested since 1932, it only rose to its current prominence after Australia ended a long period of domination by the All Blacks in 1979. The Bledisloe Cup is currently contested as part of the Tri Nations tournament and so, since 2006, is generally scheduled as a three-match series. Today, it is arguably second only to the Rugby World Cup as the international rugby trophy most treasured by New Zealand fans.
The Freedom Cup is contested between New Zealand and South Africa. Introduced in 2004 as part of the 10th anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic election, it is presented to the winner of the annual series between the two nations. The All Blacks claimed the Freedom Cup for the first time in 2006 with their wins at Wellington and Pretoria.
The Dave Gallaher Cup is contested between New Zealand and France, with the trophy going to the winner of any particular Test series between the two nations. The trophy commemorates Dave Gallaher, who was captain of the famous 1905–06 All Blacks (known as “The Originals”) and later died in battle at Passchendaele in 1917.
These international trophies are not contested during a Rugby World Cup tournament.
The inaugural IRB Rugby World Cup tournament took place in 1987 in New Zealand and Australia, hosted by the two national unions in partnership. The NZRU played a prominent role in advocating for and ultimately organising the first global championship for the sport of rugby, which has since become one of the biggest sports events in the world and an invaluable source of income for the development and promotion of the game.
The All Blacks won the 1987 Rugby World Cup final at Auckland’s Eden Park to claim the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time.
In 1991, the Rugby World Cup was hosted by England, with tournament matches held in France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The All Blacks lost to eventual champion Australia in their semifinal clash before beating Scotland to claim third spot.
In 1995, the tournament was held in South Africa. The home team triumphed in a thrilling final, beating the All Blacks with a dropped goal in extra time.
In 1999, the Rugby World Cup returned to the northern hemisphere, hosted by Wales with some matches held in France, the United Kingdom and Ireland. In an unexpected result, the All Blacks lost firstly to the French in their semifinal, played in London, and then to South Africa, to finish fourth. Australia won the final to become the first two-time champion.
In 2003, Australia hosted the tournament and, at the semifinal stage, eliminated the All Blacks, who ultimately beat France to claim third spot. The home side failed in their bid for back-to-back titles with a loss in the final to England, the Rugby World Cup’s first northern hemisphere winner.
In 2005, New Zealand was elected by members of the IRB Committee to host the 2011 Rugby World Cup tournament.
In 2007, the Rugby World Cup was hosted in France. South Africa won its second Rugby World Cup, beating England in the Final. Rugby World Cup 2007 in France was the most successful Rugby World Cup ever.
In 2009, the IRB voted to award the 2015 Rugby World Cup to England and the 2019 Rugby World Cup to Japan.
In 2011, the Rugby World Cup will be hosted in New Zealand.
Click here to visit the Rugby New Zealand 2011 website or here for more information about the 2011 Rugby World Cup.