Super Rugby

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Super Rugby, governed by SANZAAR, is the largest and most competitive rugby union competition in the southern hemisphere with 15 sides, comprised of four teams from Australia, five teams from New Zealand, four teams from South Africa, and one team from each of Japan and Argentina.

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The competition was originally founded in 1996 as Super 12 – an expansion of the South Pacific Championship that began in 1986 – and continued with 12 teams until 2005. In 2006 the competition was expanded and renamed Super 14 with two new franchises, the Western Force (Perth) and Central Cheetahs (Free State and Northern Cape Province), entering the competition following ongoing negotiations in 2005.

In 2009, following prolonged discussion, SANZAR announced its intentions to expand the competition to 15 teams in 2011 with the last franchise to be the Rebels, based in Melbourne. The competition was consequently rebranded Super Rugby.

The 2013 Super Rugby competition was won by the Chiefs, who defeated the Brumbies 27-22 to claim their second consecutive Super Rugby title. From its inception, the competition has been dominated by New Zealand sides – winning a combined 12 from 18 on 16 of 18 finals appearances. From New Zealand, the Crusaders are the competition’s most successful side winning seven titles. The Bulls remain South Africa’s most successful side winning three titles and the Brumbies are Australia’s most successful with two. Only six sides have ever won a Super Rugby championship.

In 2016 the competition was expanded from 15 to 18 teams, welcoming a sixth South African team (the Southern Kings), along with foundation teams from Japan (the Tokyo Sunwolves) and Argentina (the Jaguares). These new teams also brought a change to the Super Rugby conference structure. The previous system of three conferences spread equally into Australia, New Zealand and Africa became two groups: the Australasian Group, comprising of Australia and New Zealand, and the South African Group, comprising of two African conferences along with the Argentinian and Japanese sides.

However, this has been changed again ahead of the 2018 season. With a confusing structure and drop in quality, the competition will again be 15 teams with Australia excluding the Western Force, and South Africa removing the Southern Kings and Cheetahs from the competition.

» View the full 2018 Super Rugby draw

The competition will again have three conferences of five teams each. The Australian conference will feature the New South Wales Waratahs, Melbourne Rebels, Queensland Reds and ACT Brumbies, along with the Tokyo Sunwolves.

The Jaguares, meanwhile, will be in the South African conference, while the New Zealand teams form their own conference.

The Sunwolves' captain Shota Horie

The defending champions are the Crusaders, who beat the Lions 25-17 in the final.

Crusader and All Black Dan Carter stands as the competition’s highest point scorer (1,533); Doug Howlett the top try scorer (59); Dan Carter has kicked the most conversions (185); and Andrew Mehrtens has kicked the most penalties (202). The competition is renowned for attacking, physical rugby and is praised internationally for its flare and spectacular tries.

Last updated: 14 May, 2018

Super Rugby Articles

Realising Australian rugby’s opportunity: CEO Raelene Castle speaks exclusively to The Roar

Realising Australian rugby’s opportunity: CEO Raelene Castle speaks exclusively to The Roar

by , 21 Jun 2018

For many years, to mention Rugby Australia (previously the ARU) and ‘lunch’ in the same sentence was enough to elicit howls of derision from grassroots rugby fans.

By the numbers: How South Africa won the skirmishes and thus, the war

By the numbers: How South Africa won the skirmishes and thus, the war

by , 19 Jun 2018

Despite beginning with two of the worst opening quarters in South African rugby history (and allowing a disgracefully soft try at the end of the first Test at Ellis Park), the Springboks rebounded.

Oops! NRL’s “magic round” at Suncorp double-booked with Super Rugby

Oops! NRL’s “magic round” at Suncorp double-booked with Super Rugby

by , 17 Jun 2018 Popular article!

The NRL and Suncorp Stadium could end up with egg on their face after revelations plans for a Magic Round in Brisbane next year clashes with a Super Rugby fixture between the Queensland Reds and NSW Waratahs.

Pacific Nations Cup Week 1: Preview and predictions

Pacific Nations Cup Week 1: Preview and predictions

by , 16 Jun 2018

After a slow first round, the PNC will wrap up on Saturday, and both Fiji and Georgia are in the running for the title.

Sexton not the biggest worry for Wallabies

Sexton not the biggest worry for Wallabies

by , 15 Jun 2018 Popular article!

Amongst the raft of changes to Ireland’s starting side for Melbourne, the one that may cause most angst for Wallabies coach Michael Cheika isn’t the recall of Johnny Sexton.

2019 Super Rugby draw announced before the 2018 season is even over

2019 Super Rugby draw announced before the 2018 season is even over

by , 12 Jun 2018

The 2018 finals might still be on the way, but SANZAAR has dropped a bombshell on Tuesday morning, announcing the 2019 Super Rugby draw well ahead of schedule.

Ten crucial questions for Eddie Jones before Bloemfontein

Ten crucial questions for Eddie Jones before Bloemfontein

by , 12 Jun 2018 Popular article!

Eddie Jones had Rassie Erasmus floored, gasping for breath, punch drunk, after twenty minutes of rugby at Ellis Park.

The Wrap: Test success marks another win for Super Rugby

The Wrap: Test success marks another win for Super Rugby

by , 11 Jun 2018 Popular article!

A common refrain in recent years is that Super Rugby form is not transferable to the Test arena. As such, pundits lined up before this weekend’s matches to make the point that Australia in particular, was vulnerable to a Test match hardened Ireland team enjoying a 12-match winning streak.

Ireland needs to show more respect to the Wallabies and to Super Rugby

Ireland needs to show more respect to the Wallabies and to Super Rugby

by , 11 Jun 2018 Popular article!

The scoreline of Wallabies 18, Ireland 9 might seem tight but the victory at Brisbane has massive implications for the national side in the series, this year’s campaigns and, ultimately, during the 2019 Rugby World Cup tournament in Japan.

Christian Lealiifano to play in Japan

Christian Lealiifano to play in Japan

by , 8 Jun 2018

The Brumbies’ Christian Lealiifano is heading to Japan.


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