The Deal That Set Super Rugby and Tri-Nations in Motion

The Deal That Set Super Rugby and Tri-Nations in Motion

On this day in 1995, on the eve of the iconic World Cup final between South Africa and New Zealand in Johannesburg, details pertaining to two brand new competitions; the Super 12 and the Tri-Nations.

The Super 12 would be a competition contested by the top provinces from South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. South Africa fielded four teams (Cats, Blue Bulls, Coastal Sharks and Stormers), Australia, three (Queensland Reds, ACT Brumbies and the New South Wales Waratahs), while New Zealand added five (Canterbury Crusaders, Wellington Hurricanes, Otago Highlanders, Auckland Blues and the Waikato Chiefs).


Super Rugby - Wikipedia

The Tri-Nations competition would be between the Springboks, All Blacks and Wallabies – the Southern Hemisphere’s answer to the then Five Nations tournament to the North.

The deal was forged between SANZAR and media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and was reportedly worth £360m.


The first season of Super Rugby kicked off in Palmerston North where the Auckland Blues took on the Wellington Hurricanes on the 1st of March 1996. Since then, the tournament has evolved, expanding first to 14 teams in 2006, then to 15 in 2011, to 18 in 2016 and back to 15 in 2018.


The Crusaders have dominated the competition over its 25 year existence, having won a total of 10 titles with the next highest being the Bulls from South Africa with just 3.

The first Tri-Nations tournament was comfortably won by New Zealand, relying on the success of their Super 12 teams that year. The initial game was played between the All Blacks and Wallabies saw the former thrash the latter 43-6.

In 2012 the competition welcomed Argentina and became known as the Rugby Championship.

In all, the All Blacks have won a total of 16 titles since 1996. Australia and South Africa have 4 each while Argentina is yet to hoist the trophy.

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