Rugby: ABs face Aussies early in Championship defence

The All Blacks will begin their defence of the Rugby Championship against Australia in Sydney before a return encounter a week later in Wellington.

In the draw released by Sanzar today, the All Blacks will play the Wallabies at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Saturday August 17.

That same day the Springboks will host the Pumas at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein.

Argentina, who joined the former Tri Nations last year for the first time, will replicate the 2012 draw for their home matches, playing their first home match of the Championship in round two against the Springboks at the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza on August 24.

The All Blacks host the Wallabies at Westpac Stadium in Wellington the same day.

The All Blacks, unbeaten in the Championship last year, play the Springboks at Eden Park and Johannesburg and the Pumas at Waikato Stadium and La Plata, Buenos Aires.

Draw:

Round 1

August 17 Australia v New Zealand, ANZ Stadium, Sydney

August 17 South Africa v Argentina, Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein

Round 2

August 24 New Zealand v Australia, Westpac Stadium, Wellington

August 24 Argentina v South Africa, Estadio Malvinas Argentinas, Mendoza

August 31 BYE

Round 3

September 7 Australia v South Africa, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

September 7 New Zealand v Argentina, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton

Round 4

September 14 Australia v Argentina, Patersons Stadium, Perth

September 14 New Zealand v South Africa, Eden Park, Auckland

September 21 BYE

Round 5

September 28 South Africa v Australia, DHL Newlands Stadium, Cape Town

September 28 Argentina v New Zealand, Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, La Plata

Round 6

October 5 South Africa v New Zealand, Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg

October 5 Argentina v Australia, Estadio Gigante de Arroyito, Rosario