Sunday, April 9, 2017
The competition reduces to a 15-team format – five from New Zealand, four each from Australia and South Africa (a reduction of one and two respectively), and one each from Argentina and Japan. Australia and South Africa have yet to announce which of their teams will play in the 2018 season. The Sunwolves will move into the Australian Conference.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew welcomed SANZAAR’s announcement of a new structure from 2018 as an important response to the current environment.
“SANZAAR unions have worked hard on very difficult issues to ensure the best outcome, securing a strong future for the competition and all the SANZAAR nations. I commend all those involved in discussions as the impact has been different for everyone.
“From a New Zealand perspective, the strength of all teams is essential to ensure that New Zealand clubs can be successful on and off the field, while providing a fantastic platform for the best players in the world to be on display,” he said.
SANZAAR Chairman, Brent Impey stated, “The decision to revert to a 15-team format reflects a consensus view of the mandated SANZAAR Executive Committee that met in London recently. It was not the determination of any one Union or stakeholder and follows a thorough assessment and review of the tournament over the last nine months.
“SANZAAR is delighted that its major broadcast partners have after due consideration agreed to the restructured format within the existing broadcast agreements. Our broadcast partners are an important stakeholder and their vision for Super Rugby moving forward is the same as ours.
“The decision to retain the Sunwolves is linked directly to SANZAAR’s strategic plan for the future. The potential for growth of the sport in Asia off the back of the establishment of the Sunwolves and the impending RWC in 2019 is significant. It remains an obvious focus for the organisation and a Japanese Super Rugby franchise is key to that strategy."
Super Rugby Conferences
New Zealand Conference
Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes
Four Australian teams (TBC), Sunwolves
South Africa Conference
Four South Africa teams (TBC), Jaguares
• 120 match regular season plus seven match finals series
• 15 teams
• Three conferences (Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)
• 18 rounds (16 matches per team, two bye weeks)
• Each team will play eight matches within its conference (four home and four away)
• Each team will play eight cross-conference matches – against four of the five teams from the other two conferences (four at home and four away)
• Each team will play 12 of the other teams within the season (85% of opposition teams which is up from 70% in 2016).
• Eight team Finals Series: Three Conference winners and five wild card places – the next best performing teams after the Conference winners regardless of Conference.