2020 Super Rugby Cancelled
Due to circumstances surrounding COVID-19 and governments putting in place strict border controls and limits on international travel, SANZAAR had no option but to suspend the 'regular' 2020 Super Rugby season. With only seven rounds played in the regular season SANZAAR declared the 2020 competition void and there will be no winner in 2020.
However, SANZAAR and its member unions agreed to ensure Super Rugby returned to the field of play through a series of reformatted domestic competitions once government restrictions allow it.
First to kick-off was New Zealand on June 13. Australia followed in July with South Africa hopeful of plans for a domestic tournament when government restrictions allow it in late July/August.
Resumption of Super Rugby
Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa was the first professional rugby competition in the world to have fans return en-masse in the Covid-19 era when the competition kicked off in Dunedin on June 13 when the Highlanders played the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin.
Super Rugby Aotearoa competition format
- New Zealand’s five Super Rugby clubs (Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders and Highlanders).
- 10-week round-robin (20 matches). Top of table declared winner.
- Eight matches per club – four home, four away and two byes each.
- Two matches per weekend – 5.05pm Saturday and 3.35pm Sunday.
- Match venues: FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton; Sky Stadium, Wellington; Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin; Auckland and Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.
- Law trials: Golden point tiebreaker [extra-time to be played in event of a draw at full-time; first points scorer to win]; the ability for teams to replace red carded players after 20 minutes; a renewed focus from referees on ensuring a fair contest at the breakdown.
Super Rugby AU (Australia)
Rugby Australia confirmed its plans in May to proceed with a domestic competition as part of SANZAAR’s solution for the remainder of the Super Rugby season. The remodelled domestic competition had a planned start date of early July.
Rugby Australia confirmed that the Western Force had officially signed on to join the four Australian Super Rugby teams in an Australia-based competition to be known as Vodafone Super Rugby AU. Due to travel restrictions the Sunwolves (part of the Australian Conference) were unable to compete in the tournament.
Super Rugby Australia competition format
- Australia’s for Super Rugby clubs (Brumbies, Rebels, Reds and Wararahs) plus Western Force.
- 12 weeks: 10-week round-robin, two week finals series (22 matches).
- Eight matches per club in round-robin – four home, four away and two byes each.
- Two matches per weekend – 7.05pm Friday and 7.15pm Saturday.
- Match venues: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane; GIO Stadium, Canberra; AAMI Park, Melbourne; HBF Park, Perth; Sydney venue TBC.
- Law trials: Goal-line dropout when attacking player held up over the line; goal-line drop out when a kick into in-goal is forced by defending team; marks only allowed in the in-goal area; the ability for teams to replace red carded players after 20 minutes; 50/22 - a kick taken from within the defending team’s 50m area that travels into touch within the opposition’s 22m area having first bounced in the field of play results in a lineout throw to the kicking team; 22/50 - A kick taken from within the defending team’s 22m area that travels into touch within the opposition’s 50m area having first bounced in the field of play results in a lineout throw to the kicking team; Super Time point tiebreaker [extra-time to be played in event of a draw at full-time; first points scorer to win]
2018 - Present
In a brave move that recognised that the 18-team format did not work, was confusing and had diluted the standards of the competition, SANZAAR announced in April 2017 that the tournament in 2018 would be restructured. The 18-team, four Conference format was changed to a 15-team, three Conference format. Gone from the competition were the Force (Australia), Kings and Cheetahs (South Africa). The Jaguares remained in the now one South African Conference while the Sunwolves joined the Australia Conference.
Australian Conference: Brumbies, Rebels, Reds, Waratahs, Sunwolves
New Zealand Conference: Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes
South African Conference: Bulls, Lions, Sharks, Stormers, Jaguares
Each team plays 16 regular season Conference matches that include eight matches within their own Conference (home and away) and four matches against teams from each of the other Conferences (home or away). This is 120 matches in the regular season with a seven-match, eight-team finals series.
Competition points will be awarded in all Regular Season matches on the following basis:
- Win: 4 points
- Draw: 2 points
- Loss: 0 points for a loss of 8+ points
- Bonus: 1 point for a loss between 1-7 points
- Bonus: 1 point for scoring 3+ tries more than the opponent
- Bye: 0 points
Quarter-final Hosts (4 teams)
- Three Conference winners
- Best Wildcard team – (based on tournament points) regardless of Conference
Quarter-final Wildcard spots (4 teams)
- Four next best Wildcard teams (based on tournament points) regardless of Conference
Tie Breaking Rules:
In the event two or more teams are equal on tournament points for any position in their respective conference at end of regular season, the following will apply to determine final conference positions:
- Most wins from all matches;
- Highest aggregate points difference from all matches;
- Most tries from all matches;
- Highest aggregate difference of total tries for versus tries scored against from all matches;
- Coin toss.
The teams winning places in the Finals will be ranked 1-8 based on Conference Winners and the final number of competition points attained and the following order.
- Rank 1-3 Conference winners determined by final number competition points
- Rank 4 – Best Wildcard team based on tournament points
- Rank 5-8: Wild cards determined by final number competition points
QF 1: 1 v 8
QF 2: 4 v 5
QF 3: 2 v 7
QF 4: 3 v 6
SF 1: Winner QF 1 v Winner QF 2
SF 2: Winner QF 3 v Winner QF 4
Winner SF1 v Winner SF2
Finals Matches- Tiebreaking Criteria:
If the teams are tied at full time in any Finals Series Match then the following will apply until a winner is found:
- Extra Time: played in two 10 minute periods with a two-minute half time
- Sudden Death: played for up to 10 minutes with the first team to score declared the winner
- Kicking Competition