Australian fans will be able to watch live rugby this weekend after Rugby Australia and Foxtel completed their broadcast negotiations for Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU.
The deal means both competitions will be shown live on Fox Sports and streamed online through Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Super Rugby Aotearoa begins this weekend at 5:05pm (AEST) when the Highlanders host the Chiefs.
That match will be played in front of a packed crowd after New Zealand lifted their coronavirus restrictions. The country no longer has active cases of COVID-19.
The broadcast deal also paves the way for the full Super Rugby AU draw to be officially confirmed. The fixtures for the Australian competition, which will kick off on July 3 and conclude with the final on September 19, will be released on Thursday morning.
Rugby AU have, however, revealed that the local season will restart with a derby between the Reds and Waratahs in Brisbane before the Rebels take on the Brumbies in Canberra on July 4. Western Force fans will have to wait a week longer for their side’s anticipated Super Rugby return, with Tim Sampson’s men given the bye in Round 1.
Rugby AU interim CEO Rob Clarke said the competition will feature rule innovations – although declined to mention what exactly those will be.
“Our focus is now back where it should be, getting Vodafone Super Rugby AU up and running next month and watching our five Australian teams go head-to-head in week after week of Aussie derby action,” Clarke said.
“Fans can also expect to see something different during the new season, as we use the opportunity to innovate and push the boundaries and we look forward to showcasing a new brand of Rugby throughout this 12-week competition.”
Kick-off times for both competitions will give Australian fans Saturday evening double-headers to watch, with the first game of each round in New Zealand played at 5:05pm (AEST) before an Australian game roughly two hours later.
While the broadcast deal will ensure domestic rugby is televised this year, it does not cover any international rugby in 2020. Rugby AU have been in negotiations to host a Rugby Championship hub in Australia this year, and have been exploring an extended four-match Bledisloe Cup series.