In 2012 the Four Nations rugby tournament looks set to replace the existing Tri Nations format contested by the Wallabies, All Blacks and Springboks, following an invitation to Argentina by the South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby (SANZAR) in September, 2009.
SANZAR made the invitation based upon several requirements that the Unión Argentina de Rugby (UAR) would need to meet, including Argentina guaranteeing full player availability for the duration of the tournament, and financial modelling that conformed to SANZAR’s standards.
In May, 2010, the International Rugby Board (IRB) altered IRB Regulation 9 which governs the release of players, a move that was seen as a major step forward in making the Four Nations concept a reality.
The proposed format for the Four Nations tournament would see the four teams – the Wallabies, All Blacks, Springboks and Argentina – play each other on a home-and-away basis, meaning each team would play six matches overall, and the Four Nations tournament would comprise a total of 12 matches.
Fixtures: The proposed scheduled that was initially mooted saw the 12 matches take place over an eight-to-nine week period between August and October, and an abbreviated schedule in June/July in Rugby World Cup years.
Currently, there has been no announcement by either the IRB or SANZAR confirming whether the Four Nations tournament would be commencing in 2012, although a positive decision for the expansion of the Tri Nations to Four Nations is expected following the 2011 Rugby World Cup.