SANZAR today announced the draw for the 2013 season of Super Rugby, which will kick off with the Rebels hosting the Force at AAMI Park on Friday, 15 February.
The Australian Conference teams will be the only teams playing in Round 1 of the Competition with four of the teams in action. The same will occur in Round 17 (just before the Super Rugby season ‘breaks’ for the June inbounds), while Rounds 18 and 19 (after the break) will feature only New Zealand and South African Conference teams.
This has been necessitated by the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia, which will see their Test matches against the tourists played on different dates to the normal ‘June inbound’ schedules.
“The Lions tour to Australia presented some unique challenges in preparing the 2013 Super Rugby draw,” SANZAR CEO Greg Peters said.
“We are very appreciative of cooperation we received from the National Unions and broadcasters in preparing this draw and working through the issues.”
Peters said there was much excitement building despite being months out.
“Over the last two seasons we have seen two franchises – the Reds and the Chiefs –win the Super Rugby trophy for the first time,” Peters said.
“The emphasis in early rounds is again on local derbies that have again proven to be the most watched and attended matches in 2012.”
The defending champion Chiefs begin their campaign in Dunedin against the Highlanders on Friday, 22 February at Forsyth Barr Stadium, the same evening the Rebels host the Reds at AAMI Park.
The Bulls and the Stormers kick off the season for the South African Conference with a titanic match scheduled for Loftus Versfeld later that Friday evening.
Saturday, 27 April in Round Eleven will see a 2012 Super Rugby Final re-match again in Chiefs territory for last season’s runners up the Sharks.
The second round of the season, when the South African and New Zealand teams kick off their campaigns, sees a ‘Super Saturday’ early, with the Hurricanes (v Blues), Reds (v Waratahs), Cheetahs (v Sharks) and Kings (v Force) hosting in what will be four consecutive matches to complete the first full weekend of proceedings.
Joining Super Rugby for the first time, the Kings’ first match against a team from their own Conference will be when the Sharks arrive at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, 9 March, and a week later the new boys will play their first Kiwi side in the Chiefs.
The Crusaders and the Force will have byes in the early stages, and will not play their first home matches in Christchurch and Perth respectively until Rounds Five and Six.
Also notable is that the Blues will play a Sunday match against the Bulls in Round Four, while the Waratahs will host consecutive Sunday fixtures in Round Six and Round Seven – with the Crusaders, Brumbies and Force other sides to play on the last day of the weekend throughout the season.
Peters said the draw would build on the successes of 2012.
“The 2012 Super Rugby season was the most watched season of Super Rugby ever, both in terms of those attending matches live and also viewing on television. The 2013 draw will hopefully see us grow those numbers again,” he said.
The Super Rugby Finals Series starts on Friday, 19 July, with the Super Rugby Qualifiers scheduled for that weekend – while the Super Rugby Semi-Finals will take place on 26 / 27 July, with the Super Rugby Final to be played on Saturday, 3 August.
The 2013 Super Rugby draw is attached.
• This is the first schedule, with some New Zealand venues and Rebels v Chiefs date still to be finalised. An update will be provided when all venues and timings have been confirmed. Please visit sanzarrugby.com for the latest 2013 schedule.
• The season runs from February 15, 2012 through to the Super Rugby Final on August 3, 2012.
• The season break for New Zealand and South African teams will begin after Round 16 concludes on June 1, 2013.
• Round 17 will only see Australian Conference sides in action, with the Brumbies hosting the Rebels on Friday, 7 June and the Force hosting the Waratahs Sunday, 9 June. The touring British & Irish Lions will play the Reds that weekend, after opening their proceedings against the Force on Wednesday, 5 June.
• The season will consist of 125 matches.
Issued by SANZAR