The 2015 Investec Super Rugby season was launched today with a fans and player team archery competition at College Rifles Rugby Club.
Fans joined some of their favourite players to target a successful season, and bragging rights in the archery competition. Blues players Keven Mealamu, Patrick Tuipulotu, Chiefs Aaron Cruden and Brodie Retallick, Hurricanes Brad Shields and Nehe Milner-Skudder, Crusaders Israel Dagg and Tim Perry and Highlanders Malakai Fekitoa and Aaron Smith helped to get the season underway.
And the Blues were on fine form, winning the overall competition with 3180 points, ahead of the Hurricanes’ 2330. Patrick Tuipulotu initially said he was “quite nervous” and was hoping to just hit the target. But the Blues side was able to step up to the competition with some handy bulls-eyes. And the friendly rivalry between the Super Rugby sides also helped.
“It’s good to see some of the familiar faces,” said Tuipulotu. “There’s a bit of banter between all of us.”
The New Zealand season kicks off on Friday 13 February with theCrusaders hosting the Rebels in Christchurch, the Blues against the Chiefs atNorth Harbour and starting their campaign abroad are the Hurricanes against theLions in Johannesburg.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said this year’s Super Rugby promised to be an especially exciting season with the world’s best players on show.
ìSuper Rugby is undoubtedly the world’s best inter-provincial rugby competition. It’s a chance to witness world-class players battling it out in a fast-paced, entertaining and thrilling competition as they covet the Investec Super Rugby 2015 title.
“Playing against some of the best in the world in a Rugby World Cup year also gives players the ideal opportunity to show what they have as they push for a place in their national teams. As fans, we have the best seats in the house to watch it all unfold,” he said.
Fans will feature as a central part of the teams’ campaigns this year.
New Zealand teams have stepped-up their off-field game with new initiatives designed to reward fans for their support. Time-pressured fans also feature in this year’s national television campaign which shows players helping fans with jobs at home and work, so they can make time to get the game and cheer for their teams. The television commercial, airs from next week and will see teams playing their part to help fans claw back time to be supporters from Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith making floral arrangements, to Chief Sonny Bill Williams looking after a baby.
This year the teams are introducing new initiatives for their fans.
The Blues are going back to school. In addition to bringing back secondary school rugby matches as curtain raisers, they will take a training to their community including putting players up to talk to school assemblies and classes.
By popular demand they are also holding another Blues Open Day on 8 February.
The Blues are also looking at holding special events for primary school aged children.
The Chiefs are rewarding fans’ loyalty, offering those with membership to go into a draw for a trip for two to travel with the team to Brisbane for their 6 June match against the Reds.† The lucky winners will stay in the team hotel, have a coffee with a coach, attend the captain’s run and have dinne rwith the team.
Fans who buy a ticket to the Chiefs’ home game against the Brumbies in Taranaki, and against the Crusaders in Hamilton, will go into a draw to attend a BBQ with some of the players.
They are also increasing free shuttle busses to and from Waikato Stadium on game day with a student price in selected zones.
Music and bands and great entertainment will feature at Hurricanes home games, and fans will be encouraged to join the noise at the hangar – the section reserved for ‘Flying Squadron’ supporters.
Fans will also be able to get close to their teams for regular post-match autograph signing sessions.
Crusaders home games will feature their own house band playing from the top of the recognisable castle at AMI Stadium.† They have also carved out a special zone for Take a Kid to the Footy ticket buyers.
This year, 20 Crusader legends will be immortalised in life-sized frames aroundAMI Stadium
New offers include a Kids2Crusaders programme will include a ball and skills session with the Crusader and a 3-game Super pass for a seat to the Crusaders matches against the Rebels, Highlanders and Chiefs.
Last year’s giveaway games were so successful for the Highlanders they are stepping up the amount of giveaway prizes for fans at game with everything from iPads to playhouses and petrol vouchers.
Their popular dance cam, and Blimp Chase ñ where kids are invited to the field at half time to catch prizes dropped from a blimp above the pitch ñ also make are turn in 2015 as does the Challenge Super shot Basketball Hoop. A roving in-stadium camera will also increase the chances for fans to see themselves on the big screen at the game.
The Highlanders are also rewarding moments with a meet and greet with the team at Forsyth Barr stadium on†Friday 13 February following a members’ only training session.