Wellington – The All Blacks will open their Rugby Championship defence with a tough assignment against arch-rivals Australia in Sydney on August 17, the tournament's governing body SANZAR announced Tuesday.

The New Zealanders were undefeated in last year's competition, which was known as the Tri-Nations before Argentina joined in 2012, and remain the top-ranked team in international rugby.

But England proved in December that the world champions are not invincible and the Wallabies, who will be battle-hardened after hosting the British and Irish Lions, will gunning for an upset.

Argentina, who are yet to win a Rugby Championship Test, but managed a 16-16 draw against South Africa in August, open their campaign against the Springboks in Bloemfontein.

The competition will feature six rounds.

Fixtures for the 2013 Rugby Championship (kick-off times yet to be confirmed).

Round 1 (Aug 17)


Australia v New Zealand


South Africa v Argentina

Round 2 (Aug 24)


New Zealand v Australia


Argentina v South Africa

Round 3 (Sept 7)


Australia v South Africa


New Zealand v Argentina

Round 4 (Sept 14)


Australia v Argentina


New Zealand v South Africa

Round 5 (Sept 28)

Cape Town

South Africa v Australia

La Plata

Argentina v New Zealand

Round 6 (Oct 5)


South Africa v New Zealand


Argentina v Australia

Note: Teams awarded four points for a win, two for a draw, and one for scoring at least four tries in a match or losing by fewer than eight points. – Sapa-AFP