In 1996 Rugby underwent a radical evolution in the Southern Hemisphere with the introduction of the Super Rugby Competition. Since its inception Super Rugby has been the benchmark for other competitions around the globe, playing a key role in the introduction of night matches, Friday night Rugby Union, tactical substitutions, try-scoring bonus points and more.
In 2011 Super Rugby took another bold step and opened the door to an exciting new era for the world’s premier franchise Rugby Union competition. The new Super Rugby competition boasts 15 teams with the introduction of the RaboDirect Rebels. There will be a new nationally-based conference system made up of the five Australian, five New Zealand and five South African teams.
|AUSTRALIA||NEW ZEALAND||SOUTH AFRICA|
Each of the “local” rivals will face each other twice, once at home and once away, increasing the number of local derbies to 20 in each country. That’s 14 more in Australia and 10 more in New Zealand and South Africa than last season. This increase will create a level of tribalism and rivalry never before seen in Rugby and provide fans with more opportunities to see their heroes in action on home soil.
Teams will also play four teams from each of the other two conferences either at home or away increasing the number of overall matches in a season from 94 to 125 with each team playing 16 games in the regular season compared to 13 games last season.
The finals format will also change with each conference leader guaranteed a home final, ensuring one finals game in each country every year. The other three finals positions will be taken by the sides with the most number of competition points – irrespective of the Conference in which they are based.
This means the introduction of a three-week finals series involving six teams, opposed to the previous two-week playoff system with four teams, increasing the length of the season and providing more opportunities for fans to experience the thrill of Super Rugby.
SUPER RUGBY AT A GLANCE
An increase in matches from 94 to 125 (an increase of 33%)
A 50% increase in the length of the season in non-World Cup years – from 16 weeks to 24 weeks;
In World Cup years the season will increase by 31% from 16 weeks to 21 weeks;
40 Super Rugby regular season matches in each country every season;
20 regular season local derbies in each country compared to the previous 6 in Australia, 10 in South Africa and 10 in New Zealand; Half of all regular season matches will be local derbies; and
Each team will play 12 of its 16 regular-season games within its own country – with only four matches overseas.
HOW THE FINALS WORK
The top team in each Conference will advance to the finals in positions 1, 2 or 3, depending on the number of points they accrue during the regular season;
The other three spots will be filled by the teams with the highest number of competition points outside of the Conference winners;
The teams qualifying in 4th, 5th and 6th can come from any Conference – they could all come from one Conference; The top two teams to qualify for finals will earn a week off while the 3rd placed team, as a Conference winner, will host the 6th placed team in a sudden death Qualifier; The 4th placed team will host the 5th placed team in another sudden death Qualifier. The two winners will play the top two sides in Semis the following week;
The first semi will be played between the top ranked team and the lowest ranked winner from the first week of finals; The second semi will be played between the second ranked team and the highest ranked winner from the first week of finals; The winners of the two Semis will meet in the final.