Welcome to Super Rugby
September 13, 2010
The new Super Rugby logo © Getty Images
A bigger and better battle for southern hemisphere supremacy has been promised at the launch of the new Super Rugby competition in Sydney on Monday.
SANZAR's provincial league will be known simply as Super Rugby, not Super 15, as five teams from each of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand compete in a brand new conference format from 2011.
New SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters introduced Super Rugby at Fox Studios with leaders from the South African Rugby Union, Australian Rugby Union and New Zealand Rugby Union in attendance along with coaches and players from participating teams. A new competition logo, a stylish blue 'S', was unveiled.
"Today is a significant step in the evolution of our premier international provincial rugby competition," Peters said. "We believe this competition will deliver even more of what our fans are telling us they love about Super Rugby. We will see a new franchise in Melbourne as the Rebels step up to Super Rugby, creating a numerical balance across the conferences. It's a great time to be a rugby supporter in the southern hemisphere."
Super Rugby will look to capitalise on the popularity of local derbies as the five teams from each nation play each other home and away during the 16-round regular season. Each team will also play against four teams from each of the other two conferences in the home-and-away part of the competition.
So for example, the NSW Waratahs will play against all four other Australian franchises both in Sydney and away, as well as four of the five New Zealand teams and four of the five South African teams. Each team will not meet one franchise from the other two conferences during the home-and-away campaign.
The top team from each conference will automatically quality for the six-team finals series. They will be joined by the next three best teams based on overall points accumulated, regardless of what conference they come from. So a hypothetical finals series could be contested by four teams from South Africa, plus one from each of Australia and New Zealand, and two teams from one nation can still contest the final.
The key benefits of the new format include an increase from 94 to 125 games overall, but with far less international travel for each team, who will play only four matches on foreign soil before finals. The first instalment of Super Rugby will be condensed due to the 2011 World Cup but it will eventually span 24 weeks from February to August.
Fans will be salivating at the prospect of a guaranteed minimum of two games in each nation every week. Round One will see two derbies in each nation, as the Hurricanes host the Highlanders and new boys the Rebels welcome the Waratahs to Melbourne on Friday 18 February. The Blues will host the Crusaders and the Force travel to the Reds while in South Africa the Sharks will play the Cheetahs in Durban and the Lions entertain the Bulls.