Earlier Friday and Saturday night primetime kick-offs, ANZAC weekend Rugby, and a blockbuster Aussie derby round are just some of the highlights of the 2020 Vodafone Super Rugby draw released by SANZAAR today.
The 25th season of Vodafone Super Rugby officially gets underway on Friday, January 31 with a clash between the Blues and Chiefs in New Zealand, before the Brumbies host the Reds in the first all-Aussie battle at GIO Stadium in Canberra at the new regular Friday and Saturday night kick-off time of 715pm AEST.
In a move that is bound to appeal to families and fans of all ages, matches played in Australia on Friday and Saturday nights will kick-off 25-minutes earlier than in recent seasons (previously 740pm AEST).
Both the Waratahs and Reds will begin their 2020 campaigns on the road in Round 1, with the former getting the first shot at three-time defending champions the Crusaders in Nelson (NZ) on Saturday, February 1. Australia’s two oldest rivals will wait until Round 12 for their opening head-to-head tussle, to be played on Saturday, April 18.
The 2020 season also features a blockbuster ANZAC weekend with the Rebels and Reds both set to host New Zealand opposition in Round 13.
Round 16 is another huge one on Aussie soil, with the Rebels set to host the Brumbies on Friday night before the Reds host the Waratahs in a return bout on Saturday, May 16.
There are also four afternoon matches set to be played locally, headlined by the Round 7 clash between the Brumbies and Waratahs in Canberra on Sunday, March 15.
Rugby Australia Chief Executive, Raelene Castle said: “Vodafone Super Rugby is unique among all sporting competitions across the globe - played across four continents and almost a dozen time zones - and remains the best provincial Rugby competition in the world, graced by many of the world’s best players.
“After one of the closest Aussie Conference races on record last season, we are looking forward to seeing our teams take their performance to another level in 2020.
“One of the key changes for the 2020 season is the introduction of earlier kick-off times for night matches in Australia, which we believe will be widely welcomed by Rugby fans and will give young families an opportunity to get out and enjoy the night at the Rugby and be able to get the family home earlier, or to tune in earlier on FOX SPORTS if they can’t make it out to the ground.”
All 129 matches in the 2020 Vodafone Super Rugby season will be screened LIVE and ad-break free during play in High Definition on FOX SPORTS and Kayo Sports.
The tournament’s 15-team, three-Conference format remains the same for the 2020 season. 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.
Brumbies, Rebels, Reds, Waratahs, Sunwolves [Japan]
New Zealand Conference:
Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes
South African Conference:
Bulls, Lions, Sharks, Stormers, Jaguares [Argentina]
The Finals series will also remain unchanged with each of the three Conference winners qualifying for and hosting a quarter-final. The team with the most tournament points that is not a Conference winner, regardless of Conference, will host the fourth quarter-final. This Wildcard team will be joined in the quarter-finals by the next best four Wildcard teams based on tournament points and regardless of Conference.
Click the link below to see the full 2020 draw.