The order of fixtures has changed several times in the history of the series. In the past each team played the others twice. After some tweaking of the schedule it was decided to start the series with two fixtures in either South Africa or New Zealand and move the series to the country that did not host the opening rounds. Under this setup Australia's home fixtures were always the middle two in the series.
The recent reworking of the calendar took effect with the 2006 event. This was the result of a new television deal between SANZAR and broadcasters in the United Kingdom and the SANZAR countries. Each team plays the other three times. In 2006 the series opened in New Zealand and the first four rounds alternated between New Zealand and Australia. The fifth round was in Australia. After a one-week break the series returned to New Zealand and then finished with South Africa's three home fixtures. Each team has two home fixtures against one team and only one home fixture against the other.
The competition begins in July. Originally it had started late in July but, with the expansion of the series, the start date has moved to early in the month. It typically ends early in September. The Tri Nations opens after the completion of the Super Rugby competition for the year because players from the SANZAR countries are involved in both.
The winner is determined by a points system:
- 4 points for a win
- 2 points for a draw
- 0 points for a loss
- The Attacking bonus point by scoring four or more tries in the match, regardless of the final result.
- The Defending bonus point by losing by seven points (a converted try) or less.
A victorious team can collect either 4 or 5 points, depending on whether or not it scored 4 tries. Teams that draw can collect either 2 or 3 points, depending on whether or not both teams scored 4 tries. A losing team may collect from 0 to 2 points. At the end of the series the team with the most points is declared the winner. If teams end level on points the first tiebreaker is point differential, followed by number of tries during the series. However, the Tri Nations has yet to finish in a tie for the top spot.
Read more about this topic: The Rugby Championship
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