WELLINGTON // The final Tri Nations competition will end just two weeks before the start of next year's rugby World Cup, the governing body South Africa New Zealand and Australia Rugby (SANZAR) confirmed today. The competition, cut back to six Test matches to allow for the longer Super 15 competition and the 2011 World Cup, will start on July 23 in Sydney and conclude in Brisbane on August 27, SANZAR said in a media release.
World Cup hosts New Zealand play Tonga in the tournament's first fixture on September 9. The 2011 Tri Nations is expected to be the final southern hemisphere tournament involving only South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, with Argentina invited to join an expanded Four Nations competition in 2012. South Africa's Eastern Cape region will host a Tri Nations match for the first time when the Springboks take on the All Blacks at the new Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth on August 20.
New Zealand's two home fixtures will double as the final Test runs for two of the venues that will host World Cup matches, including the July 30 All Blacks-Springboks match at Wellington's Westpac Stadium. Auckland's Eden Park, which will host the opening game of the World Cup among four pool games, as well as both semi-finals, the third and fourth playoffs and the final, will host the Bledisloe Cup clash between the All Blacks and Wallabies on August 6.
Sydney's Olympic Stadium will host the first match of the tournament when the Wallabies play the Springboks on July 23, while Brisbane will host the final match when the Wallabies meet New Zealand at Lang Park on August 27. * Reuters