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Rugby Championship chief to seek more UK fixtures

Organisers of the annual Rugby Championship, which features rugby union’s top four southern hemisphere national teams, are set to explore the possibility of staging more games in the northern hemisphere.

Last month it was confirmed that London’s Twickenham stadium will host the Argentina v Australia match on October 8 during this year’s tournament – the first time that a match from the competition will have taken place north of the equator.

However, Andy Marinos, the chief executive of Sanzaar, which operates the tournament and is the umbrella body of the Argentinian, Australian, New Zealand and South African rugby unions, is confident that this year’s fixture will pave the way for more matches in Europe in the future.

“We saw how positive the (2015 Rugby) World Cup was in the UK and we feel our game is about taking it to as many supporters as possible,” Marinos said. “It's a good opportunity for extra exposure and bringing a meaningful Rugby Championship game to London is something that will continue to promote rugby at a moment when its popularity is continuing to grow.

“The style of play in the Rugby Championship is a very exportable commodity to further increase the attractiveness of the sport. People want to see a free-flowing style and the game is moving in that direction.”

Marinos suggested that the UK would remain the focus of possible matches for the time being.

“Australia, New Zealand, South Africa all have huge ex-pat communities in the UK so these games will be attractive to them,” he added. “Australia and New Zealand have already taken international rugby abroad to the USA and to Hong Kong, and people will continue to look at new markets, but Europe and the UK has such a strong rugby heritage and we at Sanzaar would like to continue that approach.”

This year’s tournament will begin on August 20.