An earlier start and no break will make for a significant change to the 2019 Super Rugby competition, announced by SANZAAR.
The competition begins on 15 February 2019 with the final on Saturday 6 July, and with no June international window because of the Rugby World Cup in Japan later in the year, Super Rugby will run uninterrupted for 21 weeks.
The tournament’s 15-team, three-Conference format 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 Blues are set to host the Crusaders in the opening round on Saturday 16 February, although the final Blues draw with venues will be later in the year.
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 Wildcards 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.
Click here to view the 2019 season draw.
New Zealand Conference: Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes
South African Conference: Bulls, Lions, Sharks, Stormers, Jaguares
Australia Conference: Brumbies, Rebels, Reds, Waratahs, Sunwolves