|Date||R||Home vs Away||-|
|05/27 07:35||15||Crusaders vs Reds||View|
|05/28 03:00||15||Fijian Drua vs Chiefs||View|
|05/28 07:05||1||Moana Pasifika vs Brumbies||View|
|05/28 09:45||15||Waratahs vs Blues||View|
|05/28 12:00||15||Western Force vs Hurricanes||View|
|05/29 04:00||15||Rebels vs Highlanders||View|
|Date||R||Home vs Away||-|
|05/24 07:05||10||Moana Pasifika vs Western Force||28-48|
|05/22 03:35||14||Highlanders vs Waratahs||20-32|
|05/21 09:45||14||Brumbies vs Blues||19-21|
|05/21 07:05||14||Hurricanes vs Rebels||45-22|
|05/21 04:35||14||Chiefs vs Western Force||54-21|
|05/20 09:45||14||Reds vs Moana Pasifika||34-22|
|05/20 07:05||14||Crusaders vs Fijian Drua||61-3|
|05/15 04:00||13||Rebels vs Chiefs||30-33|
|05/14 09:45||13||Waratahs vs Hurricanes||18-22|
|05/14 07:05||13||Blues vs Reds||53-26|
|05/14 04:35||13||Fijian Drua vs Moana Pasifika||34-19|
|05/13 09:45||14||Brumbies vs Crusaders||26-37|
Super Rugby is a men's professional rugby union club competition involving teams from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. It previously included teams from Argentina, Japan, and South Africa. Building on various Southern Hemisphere competitions dating back to the South Pacific Championship in 1986, with teams from a number of southern nations, the Super Rugby started as the Super 12 in the 1996 season with 12 teams from 3 countries: Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The Super 12 was established by SANZAR after the sport became professional in 1995. At its peak the tournament featured the top players from nations representing 16 of the 24 top-three finishes in the history of the Rugby World Cup. After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the competition to split into three, the reformed competition in 2021 and beyond will only include Oceanian clubs representing Australia, New Zealand and from the Pacific islands (specifically a Fijian team, and a New Zealand based Pacifika side representing Samoan, Tongan and other Pacific communities).
The name was changed to Super 14 with the addition of two teams for the 2006 season, and with expansion to 15 teams in the three countries for the 2011 season, the competition was rebranded as Super Rugby (with no number). In 2016 two new teams, the Jaguares from Argentina and Sunwolves from Japan, joined the competition, playing in two newly separated African groups.
In 2018, the competition underwent another change in format, this time dropping two teams (the Cheetahs and Kings) from the South African conference, and one (Western Force) from the Australian conference. This left the competition with 15 teams.
The Sunwolves left the competition for financial reasons before the conclusion of the 2020 season. The 2020 Super Rugby season was subsequently cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this led to a mass-scale restructuring of the competition. Due to international travel restrictions relating to the pandemic, the competition was unable to resume in its multinational format, prompting Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby to launch domestic tournaments, Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aotearoa respectively. Both these tournaments will continue in 2021, to be followed by Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, a crossover tournament.
In September 2020, the South African Rugby Union announced the withdrawal of their four Super Rugby franchises from the competition, with plans for them to join an expanded PRO14 (which would become the United Rugby Championship). The Argentinian Jaguares are not set to compete in any Super Rugby tournaments in 2021, and their future is in doubt, and it is highly likely that they will be disbanded.
The long-term future of Super Rugby in 2022 and beyond was confirmed in August 2021, with a 12-team format confirmed. The competition sees the addition of a Fijian side and a team representing the Pacific Islands, and will return to a format similar to what was played pre-COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament for 2022 and 2023 will be named Super Rugby Pacific.
The competition has been dominated by New Zealand teams, who have won 17 times in 24 years. The Crusaders have won most often, with ten titles.
Before 1996, a number of transnational competitions involving regional and provincial rugby union teams had taken shape in the southern hemisphere. The earliest of these was the South Pacific Championship, which was launched in 1986 and continued until 1990.
After the demise of the South Pacific Championship, with no tournament played in 1991, the competition was relaunched as the Super 6 in 1992. The original Super 6 competition consisted of three provincial teams from New Zealand: Auckland, Canterbury, Wellington; along with two Australian state teams: Queensland and New South Wales; and also the Fiji national team.
In 1993, the Super Six competition was revamped and expanded into the Super 10 tournament. With South Africa being readmitted into international sport following the dismantling of apartheid, there was an opportunity to launch an expanded competition which would also feature South Africa's top provincial teams. The inaugural competition featured the following teams: Waikato, Auckland, Otago and North Harbour (New Zealand); Natal, Transvaal and Northern Transvaal (South Africa); Queensland and New South Wales (Australia) and Western Samoa (Pacific Tri-Nations winner). The Super 10 was won by Transvaal (South Africa) in 1993, and by Queensland (Australia) in 1994 and 1995.
The official declaration of professionalism in rugby union in August 1995 led to a restructuring of the Super 10 competition. Following the success of the 1995 World Cup, the rugby boards of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa formed SANZAR (South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby) to administer an annual 12-team provincial/franchise based competition pitting regional teams from the three nations against each other. In addition it was decided to hold an annual Tri-Nations Test Series between the three countries. A significant reason for the development of the Super 12 was the threat to rugby union from rival football code rugby league: part of the business model for the Foxtel pay TV network in Australia was to attract subscribers by offering an exclusive product (such as rugby union) which could not be seen on free-to-air broadcast television. By setting up the Super 12, the Unions had a product that was in demand from viewers, enabling them to sell a 10-year contract for exclusive television rights to News Corp for US$555 million, giving them both coverage and financial support to kickstart the new competition.
With significant sponsorship, and rugby turning a professional sport in August 1995, the Super 12 competition successfully kicked off in 1996 with five New Zealand franchises, four South African provinces and three domestic Australian teams competing. New Zealand's dominance of the competition began in the first year when the Auckland Blues won the inaugural competition defeating South African side the Sharks 45–21 in a home final. The Blues would repeat the success of 1996 beating Australian side the ACT Brumbies 23–7 in the 1997 final.
The Blues then reached their third successive final in 1998 but went down to fellow countrymen the Canterbury Crusaders 13–20. This would mark the beginning of the Crusaders' three-year dominance as they went on to win the 1999 and 2000 finals over the Otago Highlanders and ACT Brumbies respectively. The 2001 season was the first in which no New Zealand franchise reached the final, being contested between the ACT Brumbies and Sharks with the Brumbies convincing winners, with a 36–6 scoreline.
The Crusaders won their 4th final in 2002 winning all 11 matches and missed out on their 5th in 2003 with a four-point loss to fellow countrymen the Blues. In 2004 the Brumbies took revenge on their 2000 final loss to the Crusaders defeating them 47–38 in front of a home crowd. The Crusaders would bounce back to win the 2005 final 35–25 against the Australian side the New South Wales Waratahs who reached their first-ever final. This was the last year of the 12 team format.
From the early 2000s Australia had started to push for the inclusion of a fourth Australian team, and South Africa for another team from its country. There was also speculation of including a team from the South Pacific Island nations, such as Fiji; or a combined Pacific Islanders team from Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. Argentina was also pushing for inclusion in the Super 12. In the early 2000s the provincial names from the New Zealand franchises were dropped, so, for example, the Canterbury Crusaders became The Crusaders. Also South Africa followed the New Zealand franchise model, where previously South African participation was decided by the previous year's Currie Cup placings.
SANZAR announced in December 2004 that a new five-year television deal had been signed that would cover 2006 to 2010, with News Corporation winning the rights for the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and SuperSport winning rights for South Africa. The contract was worth US$323 million over five years, a 16% annual increase compared to the previous deal. It covers international fixtures as well as the Super 14. SANZAR remained free to negotiate separate deals for other markets, such as France, Japan and the Americas.
The TriNations is the "cash cow" for the SANZAR partners as it provides nearly 60 per cent of the money from News Ltd. The Super 14 made up about 30 per cent of the deal. Under the new deal, Australia and South Africa each got one extra team in the competition, and a third round of fixtures was added to the Tri Nations Series. The new Australian team in the competition was based in Perth and was named the Western Force.
The addition of the new South African team led to considerable controversy, including government involvement. Finally, the five teams for 2006 were confirmed to be the country's existing four teams plus the Cheetahs, which draws its players from the Free State and Northern Cape Provinces. For the 2007 season, the Southern Spears, based in Port Elizabeth, were originally intended to replace the lowest-finishing South African team from the 2006 competition. However, the existing South African Super 14 franchises opposed the plan, which was pushed through by controversial president of the South African Rugby Union, Brian van Rooyen. After van Rooyen was ousted as president, SARU announced that the Spears would not enter the competition. SARU investigated the viability of the Spears after discovering serious financial irregularities. A High Court of South Africa ruling stated that the Spears had a valid contract to compete in the Super 14 and Currie Cup. However, because of the organisation's financial and administrative troubles, in November 2006 a settlement was reached. The Spears abandoned their legal case, and will continue to exist, but not compete in the Super 14.
SANZAR rejected a proposal to split the Super 14 into two seven-team divisions, and decided to keep the competition in its traditional single-table format. Argentina and the Pacific Islands remained shut out of the competition.
The two new teams didn't perform all that well, the South African franchise the Cheetahs did the better of the two teams finishing 10th on the ladder notching up 5 season wins. The Australian franchise the Western Force only managed one victory and ended winning the wooden spoon as last placed 14th. The highlight for the Force was a 23-all draw against eventual champions the Crusaders, who defeated first-time finalists the Hurricanes 19–12.
During the 2007 season, 22 All Blacks missed the competition's first seven rounds as part of an All Black "conditioning programme" that was a part of the All Blacks' 2007 Rugby World Cup preparations, and every New Zealand franchise was without players for the first seven rounds. At the end of the regular season, for the first time since 1998, no Australian franchise had made the semi-finals. Although the Brumbies were strong and the Western Force experienced vast improvement, it was a poor season for the Queensland Reds and Waratahs who finished last and second last respectively. Also, the competition featured the first all-South African final as the Sharks and Bulls, who finished 1–2 on the season ladder, both won their respective semi-finals. The final, held in Durban, saw the visiting Bulls win 20–19.
During the time the competition was branded as the Super 14, only two teams won the tournament. The Crusaders winning the 2006 and 2008 tournaments; while the Bulls ended victorious in 2007, 2009, and 2010 respectively.
SANZAR unveiled in 2009 its model for an expanded season that would begin in 2011. This model was based around the original ARU proposal for three national conferences: each side were to have played the other four teams from their own country twice and the other ten teams once each; the season has to end with a six-team finals series.
There were four major compromises, however, designed to accommodate certain wishes of each country, that somewhat complicated the model:
SANZAR announced in 2009 the addition of a fifth Australian team that would play in the expanded "Super Rugby" competition in 2011. The licence was awarded to Victoria, Australia, and the team's name announced as the Melbourne Rebels. The Australian start-up franchise was given the nod ahead of South Africa's Southern Kings. Brian Waldron, former CEO of the NRL club the Melbourne Storm, was confirmed as the new CEO of the Rebels on 11 January 2010, but resigned on 23 April after a salary cap breach was uncovered at the Storm.
In February 2012, SANZAR chief executive Greg Peters announced that the organisation was considering adding franchises in Argentina, Japan and the United States in 2016, the first year of SANZAR's next television contract. This was also the year that rugby sevens entered the Olympics, which contributed towards increased interest in the sport in many countries, including Japan and the US.
Australian sports broadcasting analyst Colin Smith noted that the addition of Japanese and American teams could result in a TV deal worth more than A$1 billion beyond 2020. Specifically, he stated, "You could have a deal comparable to the other major sports in Australia. Rugby is a college (university) sport in the US, if soccer can create its own league there and sell teams for $40 million, imagine what you could do in 10–12 years with rugby in that market." By comparison, the largest TV deal in Australian sport, that of the Australian Football League (Australian rules), is worth A$1.26 billion from 2012 to 2016. Even that figure was dwarfed by the TV contracts of the NFL, for which contracts at the time were worth more than US$4 billion annually.
Peters added that the conference-based structure was ideal for expanding the competition to new territories, either by adding new conferences or by adding teams to the current conferences. He also discussed the possibility that offshore Super Rugby teams could be a home for surplus players from the SANZAR countries, keeping them in the SANZAR fold and away from European clubs.
Prior to Super Rugby's broadcast contracts expiring after the 2015 season, SANZAR considered several alternatives for the competition's future organisation:
The last proposal, made by the SARU, was reportedly driven by internal union politics. With only five guaranteed places in Super Rugby but six active franchises, the bottom team in the South African Conference faced a promotion/relegation playoff with the sixth franchise for a place in the next season's competition. Australia and New Zealand warmed to the SARU proposal, as a trans-Tasman competition would potentially allow for more regional derbies, fewer time zone complications and less player travel. However, NZRU chief executive Steve Tew indicated that a competition that did not include South African teams was a commercial non-starter because of large broadcast revenues from that country and because the NZRU considered Super Rugby matches in South Africa to be critical for national team development.
SANZAR announced on 4 September 2013 that South Africa would be granted a sixth franchise starting in the 2016 season, negating the need for relegation play-offs involving the sixth South African franchise. SANZAR then announced on 20 November 2014 that Japan and Argentina would each be allocated a team from the 2016 season onwards.
In 2017, the Australian Rugby Union was rebranded to Rugby Australia.
In April 2017, SANZAAR confirmed the competition would be reduced to 15 teams in 2018 with two South African and one Australian team to have their franchises withdrawn. Subsequently, four South African teams took part: the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers, with the Cheetahs and Kings losing their spots. The Cheetahs and Kings joined the Pro 12, which became the Pro14 from the 2017–2018 season onwards. On 11 August 2017, Australia announced that the Western Force had lost their licence. On 21 March 2019, SANZAAR confirmed that 2020 will be the Sunwolves last season of competition in Super Rugby.
The global COVID-19 pandemic caused the 2020 Super Rugby competition to be cut short. As health concerns eased, other professional sports returned to play. The Super Rugby season was unable to resumed, however, due to border restrictions and the need for teams to be placed into quarantine upon arrival in each country. This resulted in New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia forming their own Super Rugby tournaments starting in June and July respectively, so that their teams could compete domestically. South African Rugby subsequently launched its own domestic Super Rugby competition which started play in October 2020.
The three competitions formed were:
Super Rugby Aotearoa featured all five New Zealand teams from Super Rugby: the Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders and Hurricanes. Super Rugby AU included Australia's four teams, the Reds, Waratahs, Brumbies and Rebels, as well as former Super Rugby side, the Western Force. The Force had continued as a franchise after their 2017 post-season exclusion from Super Rugby and were playing in Global Rapid Rugby, also suspended due to COVID-19. The Australian and New Zealand competitions each scheduled a 20-game home and away season in 2020 but Super Rugby AU played two additional knockout matches to decide the Australian title.
Super Rugby Unlocked featured South Africa's four Super Rugby teams (the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers) plus former franchise the Cheetahs as well as the Currie Cup sides Griquas and Pumas. These seven teams competed in a single round-robin domestic format in 2020.
In September 2020, SA Rugby announced the withdrawal from Super Rugby of all of their teams, with plans for the four sides to join an expanded Pro14 competition. Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU continued in 2021, Super Rugby Trans-Tasman will also take place in 2021, a crossover competition featuring the Australian sides playing the New Zealand sides.
In the longer term, a new 12-team tournament from 2022 onwards had been mooted, with the current five Australian and five New Zealand sides to be joined by Moana Pasifika, and a Fijian side. New Zealand Rugby has confirmed that it intends to partner with Fiji Rugby and Moana Pasifika, along with Australia going forward. In April 2021, it was announced that licences had been offered to the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika ahead of joining Super Rugby in 2022. The new format was confirmed in August 2021, with the tournament branded as Super Rugby Pacific, with the competition returning to a round robin format, although the divisions will be replaced by one main log instead.