2014 Investec Super Rugby draw released
The 2014 Investec Super Rugby season will get underway in South Africa with the Cheetahs and Sharks scheduled to host back-to-back matches on Saturday February 15 that will spark the new campaign into life.
Lions fans won’t have to wait long to see their newly-promoted team in action with the franchise set to visit Bloemfontein for the season-opening clash at 17:05 local (04:05 NZDT, 02:05 AEDT) while the Sharks play host to the Bulls at Growthpoint Kings Park from 19:10 (06:10 NZDT, 04:10 AEDT).
Defending-champions the Chiefs start their bid for a third successive Super Rugby title when they visit the Crusaders in a blockbuster clash to open Round 2 that sees the Australian and New Zealand franchises begin their campaigns.
The Highlanders and the Blues meet in Dunedin on Saturday February 22 in a clash that precedes the first Australian match between the Brumbies and Reds later that evening in Canberra.
The Stormers get their campaign underway with a visit to the Lions after a bye in the opening week and the Hurricanes begin their season on the road as they head to Durban to face the Sharks in the sole cross-conference clash of the opening fortnight.
Sydney gets an early taste of Super Rugby action as the Waratahs host the Force in the first Sunday afternoon fixture of the season while the Rebels will be champing at the bit to get their campaign underway on February 28 as they start at home against the Cheetahs following a Round 2 bye.
After falling just shy of their maiden title in 2013, the Brumbies will have April 25 circled for when the Chiefs are scheduled to visit the Australian capital as Anzac Day rugby features for the first time on the Super Rugby calendar since 2009.
The Blues and Waratahs commence Round 11 proceedings in New Zealand with a twilight kick-off on Anzac Day before the Highlanders visit the Sharks to round out the Friday triple-header across all three territories.
The Investec Super Rugby Finals Series will occur over three weeks commencing on Friday July 18, culminating with the crowning of the 2014 champion on Saturday August 2.
SANZAR Chief Executive Greg Peters said, “With the draw now confirmed, teams and fans alike can start preparing for what promises to be another exciting Super Rugby season.
“Local derbies remain the preeminent focus of the early rounds as they have proven to be tremendous drawcards to establish early momentum and start the competition with the tribalism and passion that Super Rugby is renowned for.
“I encourage all fans to get behind their team and sign up as a member in 2014 as we look forward to another incredible year of watching the best talent in world rugby.”
The New Zealand Conference teams will play the following cross conference matches.
Blues: Bulls (A), Lions (A), Cheetahs (H), Brumbies (A), Waratahs (H), Reds (H), Sharks (H), Force (A)
Chiefs: Stormers (H), Force (A), Bulls (A), Cheetahs (A), Rebels (H), Brumbies (A), Lions (H), Waratahs (H)
Crusaders: Stormers (H), Rebels (A), Lions (A), Cheetahs (A), Brumbies (H), Reds (A), Sharks (H), Force (H)
Highlanders: Force (H), Rebels (H), Bulls (H), Sharks (A), Stormers (A), Lions (H), Reds (A), Waratahs (A)
Hurricanes: Sharks (A), Stormers (A), Brumbies (H), Cheetahs (H), Bulls (H), Reds (H), Waratahs (A), Rebels (A)
• Several venues in New Zealand are still to be confirmed. These will be updated and published on the Super Rugby website and social media platforms as they are announced.
• The season runs from February 15 (RSA) and February 21 (AUS & NZ) until August 2, 2014
• Each team plays 16 regular season matches; 8 home and 8 away (plus 2 byes)
• The season will consist of 125 matches, including the Finals Series