20 things to look forward to in 2020

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7.05pm kick offs

Investec Super Rugby winds the clock back literally in its 25th season with a new family friendly kick off time of 7.05pm throughout the season in New Zealand. While the vast majority of games on NZ soil kick off at 7.05pm, there are also some 4.45pm kick offs to ensure that families can fully embrace the Super Rugby experience.

Who will be the 25th champion?

Nine separate teams have tasted Super Rugby glory over the first 24 years of the competition with the Crusaders lifting a record 10 titles. The Blues and Bulls have won three titles each, the Brumbies and Chiefs two titles and the Reds, Waratahs, Highlanders and Hurricanes one each. When factoring in a post Rugby World Cup changing of the guard for some of the New Zealand teams this could be the most open Super Rugby season yet.

 

Highlanders 9/10 strength

Although the Highlanders have lost some of their most experienced players in 2020, they boast one of the strongest 9/10 combinations in Super Rugby. Halfback Aaron Smith has long been considered one of the best halfbacks in the world and gets to continue his partnership with 2019 All Black Josh Ioane in 2020. While Smith and Ioane will be the Highlanders likely go-to 9/10 pairing, they have plenty of fire power in reserve with Mitchell Hunt arriving from the Crusaders to challenge for the number 10 jersey and live wire Hawke’s Bay halfback Folau Fakatava itching for more game time.

 

Barrett in Blue

One of the most anticipated team switches in Super Rugby history will likely take place in April when former Hurricanes star Beauden Barrett makes his debut for the Blues. Barrett has been given an extended break from the game following a big workload over recent seasons and will provide the Blues with a huge boost at the back-end of the season.

Rookie watch

Last year Crusaders flyer Sevu Reece burst on the scene to be named the Super Rugby New Zealand rookie of the year and earned a call-up to the All Blacks. This year 46 rookies (rookies are defined as players that have signed their first full-time Investec Super Rugby contract) will look to make their mark across the five New Zealand teams. Stay tuned to the Super Rugby NZ social media channels as they keep tabs on the form of the rookies during each round of the competition.

 

The codes of Auckland unite

Rugby and league fans will unite at Eden Park on Saturday 21 March when the Blues and the Warriors stage an unprecedented Super Rugby/NRL double header. The Warriors will be first on the field to take on 2019 NRL grand finalist the Canberra Raiders before the Blues take on old foes the Brumbies. Grab your tickets to this special event HERE.

Super-charged Chiefs

The Chiefs will be super-charged in 2020 with the return of Aaron Cruden following three seasons in France and the re-introduction of superstar playmaker Damian McKenzie from injury. McKenzie was playing at first five-eighth prior to tearing his ACL in April 2019 but will likely shift back to his favoured spot of fullback with Cruden taking the 10 jersey. When adding into the mix All Blacks Brad Weber, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi and Anton Lienert-Brown, the Chiefs will boast one of the most dangerous backlines in the competition.   

 

Steak and cheese, please

Yum! The Hurricanes are offering fans the chance to purchase a meat pie for just $2 at all seven of their round robin games at Sky Stadium in 2020. The pies are available in two flavours – mince and cheese and steak and cheese – and are capped at just 750 pies per-match. Theme nights are also back for the Hurricanes with the Club Night on May 1 and 2000s night on March 27 just two of the themes to look out for. Grab your Hurricanes season membership HERE to be part of the fun.

Joyful Jagaures

All eyes in the South African conference will be on the Jaguares to see if they can back up their brilliant form from 2019. The sole South American side in the competition won 11 of their last 12 matches last year to surge into the final against the Crusaders. Despite losing the final 19-3 to the Crusaders, the Jaguares would have taken plenty from the experience and will be one of the competition favourites in 2020.

 

Family friendly footy

Earlier kick off times, kids’ memberships specials and rugby played in late summer means Super Rugby is more appealing to kids and families than ever before. Visit your favourite team’s website and grab a season membership so you don’t miss out on any of the fun.

 

Sunwolves swansong

Sadly 2020 is the final season we will see the Sunwolves in Super Rugby, but can the Japanese side go out with a bang? Japanese rugby is on a high following their brilliant performance and hosting of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. The Sunwolves have named a squad with plenty of talent from both Japan and abroad and will be looking to excite in their Super Rugby season.

 

Razor’s got moves

Will Scott Robertson be cutting up the turf with his break-dancing moves for a fourth straight season when Super Rugby concludes in late June?

Gats is back

After 12 seasons at the helm of Wales and two campaigns as Head Coach of the British and Irish Lions, Warren Gatland has returned home to coach the Chiefs in 2020. Born and raised in Hamilton, Gatland was a stalwart of Waikato rugby in the 1980s and 90s before starting his coaching career in the UK in 1996. Gatland took Wales to number one in the world rankings in 2019 and will be eager to add to the Chiefs brace of Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013.  

 

Hurricanes coaching refresh

A re-jigged coaching line-up will bring fresh ideas and ways of thinking to the Hurricanes 2020 campaign. With John Plumtree being elevated to an All Blacks assistant coach role, Jason Holland has earned promotion to head coach while Cory Jane has been brought in as an assistant coach. Holland first joined the Hurricanes in 2016 and has helped the Hurricanes into the play offs every year he has been involved.

 

Marching into the Blues

Remember the name Joe Marchant. From terrorising opposition defenders in the English Premiership, Harlequins centre Joe Marchant gets to strut his stuff on the Super Rugby stage for the Blues in 2020. A highly-skilled game-breaker, Marchant is a key signing for the Blues and will offer the side another attacking weapon as they look to impress in the New Zealand conference this year.

 

You’re a Rebel Harry!

After dominating the Quidditch pitch, Harry Potter has the chance to shine for the Rebels in Super Rugby this year.

Springbok influence

South African rugby is on a high after winning the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Stormers captain Siya Kolisi believes the success will flow into Super Rugby. In an ominous message for the New Zealand and Australian conferences, Kolisi said the South African teams will now have more belief they can win on the road. “When we go on tour, we want to win every game. We don’t want to aim for this one or that one. In most of the teams I’ve played for in the past, you already lose before you get off the plane because you’re choosing which games you’re going to win,” Kolisi said.

 

Finals Footy

There’s nothing more exciting than finals footy. With no June break in Super Rugby this year, the road to the finals is paved from the very first round. After 18 rounds of fierce competition, the playoffs will be played across three weekend’s in June with the champion to be crowned on 20 June.  

 

Justin Marshall commentary gems

He’s already gifted us with boomfa, yes boy and me oh my…what will Justin Marshall come up with in 2020? Tune into Sky Sport to find out.

 

Rugby Recoded

Witness Rugby Recoded when Investec Super Rugby returns on January 31.

 

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