Uninterrupted Super Rugby tournament in 2020
The unsightly June break in the middle of Super Rugby‚ which was a feature for several years‚ will be done away with in 2020 as the tournament runs unbroken from January to July.
A change in the global Test calendar‚ which moved the June incoming Tests in the southern hemisphere to July‚ means Super Rugby will be able to maintain its momentum from start to finish.
The 21-week tournament starts on January 31 with the Blues against the Chiefs in Auckland and ends with the final on June 20.
The Sharks and the Bulls are the first South African teams in action when they clash on January 31 in Durban.
The Stormers open their account on February 1 at Newlands against the Hurricanes while the Lions are away to the 2019 finalists the Jaguares in round one.
The conference system and the eight-team play-offs remains in place before the tournament scales down to 14 teams in 2021.
The Sunwolves will endure their final Super Rugby campaign in 2020.
"Super Rugby remains one of rugby's premier tournaments and features many of the best teams and players in the world‚” South Africa‚ New Zealand‚ Australia and Argentina (SANZAAR) chief executive Andy Marinos said.
“The unique nature of this tournament‚ that covers a geographical spread across Argentina‚ Asia‚ Australia‚ New Zealand and South Africa‚ not only reinforces its global reach but the fact that it remains the toughest tournament in the world.
“2020 will see a season of uninterrupted action due to the shift of the inbound international rugby window from June to July.
"An earlier than usual start has been required to get through the 21-week tournament and provide the SANZAAR national teams with a clear week leading into the July Test series.
"The complexity of the draw and managing logistics and scheduling that delivers a draw that is fair and equitable has been our priority.
"This has been achieved with a consultative and collaborative approach with the national unions‚ Super Rugby teams and broadcasters."
"With the majority of our players benefitting from a longer than usual off-season due to RWC 2019‚ we expect the teams to deliver another compelling tournament across its 120 matches.
"One that produces a competitive race for the Finals similar to that which we saw this year when 11 teams were still in the hunt for a Finals berth on the last weekend."
"The schedule has 22 match venues confirmed and it is exciting that Super Rugby will once again venture into several new venues and cities.
"It has been confirmed that Hanazono Stadium‚ Osaka and Level Five Stadium‚ Fukuoka in Japan will host Sunwolves matches‚ while the Waratahs will play at WIN Stadium‚ Wollongong in Australia.”
The tournament’s 15-team‚ three-conference format remains the same in 2020.
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).
Each team also has two byes.
This is a total of 120 matches in the regular season that will be followed by the seven-match‚ eight-team finals series.
Australian Conference: Brumbies‚ Rebels‚ Reds‚ Waratahs‚ Sunwolves (Japan)
New Zealand Conference: Blues‚ Chiefs‚ Crusaders‚ Highlanders‚ Hurricanes
South African Conference: Bulls‚ Lions‚ Sharks‚ Stormers‚ Jaguares (Argentina)
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