Cape Town – A mouth-watering South African Super Rugby derby will headline the opening weekend of the 2019 Super Rugby season.
SANZAAR on Tuesday announced the tournament dates for the 2019 competition, with the Bulls to host the Stormers in Pretoria on the opening weekend (Saturday, February 16).
The event kicks off on the Friday (February 15) when the Chiefs host the Highlanders in New Zealand.
The Sharks open their campaign away to the Sunwolves on Saturday, February 16, while the Lions are away to the Jaguares on the same day.
The final will take place on Saturday, July 6.
As there will be no June inbound international matches in 2019 – due to Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan later in the year – Super Rugby will run uninterrupted for 21 weeks. There will also be a uniform start to the tournament in Round 1 with a full round of seven matches to kick-off Super Rugby.
Click HERE for the full 2019 Super Rugby match schedule
The tournament’s 15-team, three-Conference format also remains the same. 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 a seven-match, eight-team finals series.
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.
The released schedule confirms all tournament match dates and kick-off times. However, the match venues will be announced later in the year once teams have determined where their home matches will be allocated.
Australia Conference: Brumbies, Rebels, Reds, Waratahs, Sunwolves
New Zealand Conference: Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes
South African Conference: Bulls, Lions, Sharks, Stormers, Jaguares