The Blues are excited to host reigning champions the Highlanders at Eden Park to kick off the 2016 Super Rugby Championship.
The 2016 draw, which was released today, features a new-look competition and trophy, as well as the inclusion of a sixth team from South Africa and new teams from Japan and Argentina.
The Blues will help headline a blockbuster opening weekend on Friday, February 26 when we welcome the Highlanders to Auckland.
This will be the first of eight home games during the season. Our second home game of the season will be against the Hurricanes at Eden Park in early March as well we’ll host a match against the newly minted Argentinian side on April 2 at QBE Stadium.
The seven away games includes a demanding three-game away trip to South Africa (Kings and Lions) and the Force in Perth, before the break for the international window between 27 May and 1 July.
We’ll be closing out the final two rounds of competition on home soil with games against the Brumbies and the Waratahs.
New head coach Tana Umaga is pleased to see a draw with home games evenly spaced throughout the season.
“It’s great to have the eight games at home next season which means we do not have the away game with Argentina, who are in our pool.
“The byes are spaced out well in the opening half of the season, so the players will be well rested,” Tana said. “The later tour to South Africa also means we’ll be able to work off the momentum of the opening stages before we finish at home.”
“There are some real promising factors of this draw, so it’ll be good to begin planning the detail around the season.
“Right now I’m happy with our recruitment process and we’ll be in place to name our full squad at the end of October. It’ll be a fantastic mix of experienced stars led by Jerome Kaino and some very exciting young players.”