Ask Steven: All Blacks' record-breaking Rugby Championship

(Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

How many times has the equivalent of the Grand Slam been achieved in the Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship?

New Zealand have secured their seventh clean sweep of a tournament which began in 1996. It was a Tri-Nations competition until 2011. When Argentina joined in 2012, the competition was rebranded as the Rugby Championship.

The All Blacks had a run of eight straight wins when the Tri-Nations began to register back-to-back Grand Slams in 1996 and 1997. They next won the Grand Slam in 2003 (before exiting the Rugby World Cup against Australia in the semi-finals later that year), and won it again in 2010, by which time each of the Tri-Nations were playing one another three times in a season, making the success the first six-match Grand Slam.

Since Argentina joined, New Zealand has won further Grand Slams (also of six matches) in 2012 and 2013.

The All Blacks set a new record this Saturday, beating South Africa AND securing a try bonus point. In doing so, they will became the first nation to make a clean sweep of the tournament with maximum-possible points, having achieved bonus-point wins in each of their previous five Rugby Championship wins this season to date.

South Africa's only Grand Slam in the tournament was in 1998 (four matches) and Australia's was in a reduced competition (owing to Rugby World Cup commitments) last year (when each nation played just three matches).

Tri-Nations/Rugby Championship Grand Slam winners:

New Zealand (Six times) 1996, 1997, 2003, 2010, 2012 and 2013

South Africa (Once) 1998

Australia (Once) 2015