JOHANNESBURG – Sanzaar announced on Tuesday that the 25th season of Super Rugby will kick off on 31 January 2020.The first action on local soil will be a replay of the epic 2007 final between the Sharks and the Bulls in Durban, with the Stormers and Lions in action the following day.In a major change from previous non-RWC years, the competition will run uninterrupted until the final on 20 June, as the traditional mid-year Test window moves to a later slot from next year.That Test match window for inbound tours to Argentina, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa will now be in July, which allows Super Rugby to be played uninterrupted across the 21-week tournament timeframe.The opening match of the season sees the Blues host the Chiefs at Eden Park in Auckland, while the Brumbies will host the Reds in Canberra later on 31 January.On 1 February, the Stormers host the Hurricanes in Cape Town, while the Lions have a tough opener as they travel to Buenos Aires for a clash against 2019 runners-up, the Jaguares.The defending champion Crusaders open their account against the Waratahs.Sanzaar CEO Andy Marinos said Super Rugby continues to be one of the most challenging and entertaining rugby tournaments in the world.“Super Rugby is one of rugby’s premier tournaments and features many of the best teams and players in the world. The geographical spread of the teams across Argentina, Asia, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand entails substantial travel and tournament logistics making it the toughest tournament in the world’, he said.So, how does the tournament work?Each team will play 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 the seven-matches in the finals series.The finals series will also remain unchanged with each of the three conference winners qualifying for and hosting a quarterfinal. The team with the most tournament points that is not a conference winner, regardless of conference, will host the fourth quarterfinal.This wildcard team will be joined in the quarterfinals by the next best four wildcard teams based on tournament points and regardless of conference.The 2020 season is also the Sunwolves’ final one in the competition after the Japanese Rugby Union decided to withdraw their financial support of the team.This will also be the final season that the conference system is used with a round-robin format expected to come into effect from 2021.ConferencesAustralia Conference: Brumbies, Rebels, Reds, Waratahs, Sunwolves (Japan)
New Zealand Conference: Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes
South African Conference: Bulls, Lions, Sharks, Stormers, Jaguares (Argentina)