The defending DHL Super Rugby Pacific champion Crusaders will kick the competition off against the Chiefs during an opening round that focuses on traditional rivalries, while also breaking new ground as the Waratahs christen the brand new Allianz Stadium in Sydney against the Brumbies.
Opening weekend will also see Pasifika pride on the line as Moana Pasifika host the Fijian Drua at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland in what will be the start of historic campaigns for last year’s two competition newcomers. The Drua will play six home matches in Fiji, while Moana Pasifika will take a home match to Apia in what will be the second* Super Rugby game in Samoa and a first for Moana Pasifika.
The final fixtures of the opening weekend will see the Highlanders host the Blues at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, the Hurricanes travel to Brisbane to play the Reds, and the Force host the Rebels in Perth.
Round 2 is the previously announced Super Round at AAMI Park in Melbourne where all 12 teams will gather for a high-stakes festival of rugby.
The 2023 draw will see all 12 teams play a total of 14 matches during the regular season, 11 round-robin fixtures plus three additional rivalry matches which will see each team play a home and away series against three other teams. Family friendly afternoon kick-offs are a feature of the draw with 24 daytime matches in total with all 91 matches live and exclusive on Sky, including the eight-team finals series, which kicks off in the second weekend of June.
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Professional Rugby and Performance, Chris Lendrum said:
“There is a real feeling that DHL Super Rugby Pacific is ready for take-off after a successful, but COVID disrupted inaugural season. We saw massive potential on the field in 2022, but also some huge challenges off it, so to have a fully integrated and uninterrupted draw in 2023 is great news for the players and the fans. I think we are going to see one of Super Rugby’s most competitive seasons.”
Rugby Australia Chief Executive Andy Marinos said:
“Being able to play regularly in front of home fans, and to travel across the Tasman and around the Pacific is massive for the competition, especially for fans, who can support their teams through a full home schedule. Everyone saw what Super Rugby Pacific had to offer in its first season and all 12 clubs have taken that excitement into the off-season and will be primed for a shot at the title in 2023.”
Key features of the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific draw:
· Each team plays 14 regular season matches
· Round 1 features traditional rivalry fixtures
· The Waratahs will host the Brumbies in the first ever fixture at the new Allianz Stadium in Sydney
· Round 2 is the Super Round in Melbourne
· All teams play all other teams in the competition
· All teams play three extra ‘rivalry’ games which create home and away mini-series
· All teams will have their byes between Rounds 7, 8 & 9
· Top eight teams reach the finals
DHL SUPER RUGBY PACIFIC AT A GLANCE
Season opener: Crusaders v Chiefs at Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch.
Format: 12 teams: Moana Pasifika, Fijian Drua, Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders, Highlanders, Waratahs, Reds, Force, Brumbies, Rebels
14 regular season matches = 11 round-robin matches + 3 rivalry matches
One bye round per team (all byes in Rounds 7, 8 & 9)
Season Length: 18 weeks = 15-week regular season + three-week eight-team playoff series
Total Matches: 91
Super Round: Round 2, Friday-Sunday 3-5 March @ AAMI Park Melbourne.
Rivalry matches: Each team plays three teams twice (one at home match, one away match per rivalry)
· Blues: Rivalry opponents are the Hurricanes, Highlanders and Crusaders
· Chiefs: Rivalry opponents are the Crusaders, Hurricanes and Highlanders
· Crusaders: Rivalry opponents are the Blues, Chiefs and Moana Pasifika
· Highlanders: Rivalry opponents are the Blues, Force and Chiefs
· Hurricanes: Blues, Chiefs and Moana Pasifika
· Moana Pasifika: Hurricanes, Highlanders and Fijian Drua
· Fijian Drua: Moana Pasifika, Reds and Waratahs
· Force: Highlanders, Reds and Rebels
· Reds: Fijian Drua, Force and Brumbies
· Rebels: Force, Waratahs and Brumbies
· Waratahs: Fijian Drua, Rebels and Brumbies
· Brumbies: Reds, Rebels and Waratahs
* The Blues played the Reds in Apia in 2017, as part of the Super Rugby competition.