You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Super Rugby at a glance

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/02/2017

BREAKING DOWN SUPER RUGBY 2017

* The season will run from February 23 to August 5 with a break for the test window in June.

* The New Zealand sides will all face the British and Irish Lions, creating split rounds during the June international window and into July.

* The Chiefs and Crusaders, who played in Suva last year, return to the Fijian capital on May 19, while the Auckland Blues face the Reds in the first Super Rugby game in Samoa when they clash in Apia on June 2.

GROUPS AND CONFERENCES

* Teams are split into two groups -- Australasian and South African -- and four conferences.

Australasian Group

New Zealand Conference: Highlanders, Hurricanes, Crusaders, Chiefs, Blues.

Australia Conference: Waratahs, Brumbies, Rebels, Force, Reds.

South African Group

Africa Conference 1: Bulls, Cheetahs, Stormers, Sunwolves.

Africa Conference 2: Kings, Lions, Sharks, Jaguares.

* The four Conference winners automatically qualify for the playoffs along with the next three highest-ranked Australasian Group teams and the next highest-ranked South African Group team.

* The semi-final draw will be pre-determined, instead of based on regular season rankings of the final four teams.

* The semi-final host teams will be the highest ranked winners from the respective quarter-finals.

CHANGES

* Governing body SANZAAR has streamlined the disciplinary procedure this year, introducing a permanent review panel and clarifying the role of the television official.

* The competition will be played under World Rugby's five experimental rule trials.

* The most significant rule being trialled involves when teams are penalised for persistent offending while under advantage. The captain of the non-offending team may choose where the penalty is taken from rather than from where the first offence occurred.

* Penalty tries are worth seven points, with teams not needing to take conversions.

* The stricter head contact rules, announced last December, will be enforced.

HISTORY

* The competition started as the Super 12 in 1996, a year after the sport turned professional, and was expanded to 14 teams from 2006 and 15 in 2011 after the Melbourne Rebels were added. It was expanded in 2016 to include a sixth South African side, the Kings, and introduced teams in Argentina and Japan.

* New Zealand teams have dominated the competition, winning 14 of the 21 titles. With the Hurricanes clinching the title last season, all five New Zealand sides have now lifted the Super Rugby trophy. The Canterbury Crusaders are the most successful with seven titles.

* South Africa's Bulls are the only South African champions, having won the title in 2007, 2009, 2010.

* Australia's ACT Brumbies have won the title twice (2001, 2004) while the Queensland Reds (2011) and New South Wales Waratahs (2014) have won it once each.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon