There are team changes, rule changes and a new play-off format in Super Rugby for 2018. Read about them all here

Super Rugby 2018 Explained

The Six Nations may be in full swing, but the southern hemisphere is about to begin its flagship domestic competition, Super Rugby.

It will look very different in 2018 to last year, so Rugby World has put together a list of some of the biggest changes so you can remain clued up.

Team Changes

Super Rugby has gone from an 18-team competition, down to 15, with the loss of South African sides Southern Kings and Free State Cheetahs, who have moved into the northern hemisphere competition, the Guinness Pro14.

Additionally, Western Force, based in Perth, Australia, have been disbanded altogether after poor on-field performances and financial issues.

Relocated: Free State Cheetahs are now part of the Pro14 competition, along with Southern Kings (Getty Images)

Conference Changes

As a result of the losses of these teams, there have been significant changes to the conferences. In Super Rugby 2018 there will be three conferences, each with five teams. The two main changes involve the Sunwolves and the Jaguares, with one moving to the Australian conference and the other moving into the South African conference respectively.

Australian Conference – Brumbies, Melbourne Rebels, Reds, Sunwolves, Waratahs

New Zealand Conference – Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes

South African Conference – Bulls, Jaguares, Lions, Sharks, Stormers

Changes: The Jaguares and Sunwolves have been part of the tournament changes, both moving into different conferences (Getty images)

Law Changes

The administrators of the competition, SANZAAR, have announced Super Rugby will follow the World Rugby Law Amendments for the 2018 season.

These changes, which will affect the scrum, tackle area and ruck, are designed to make the game easier to play and referee, and protect the players more.


  • The scrum-half must put the ball in straight but is allowed to align their shoulder with the middle line of the scrum. Therefore they are allowed to stand a shoulder width towards their own side of the middle line.
  • Once the ball touches the ground in the scrum, any front-row player can use either foot to strike it back. One player from the feeding side must strike the ball, otherwise a free-kick will be the result.
  • The No 8 is allowed to pick the ball up when at the feet of the second row. This will likely allow teams under pressure in the scrum to get the ball out quickly.

Tackle Area 

  • Tackler must get up before playing the ball, and they must be on their side of the tackle ‘gate’.

The Jackal: Players like David Pocock will have to abide by the new laws around the ruck (Getty Images)


  • A ruck commences when at least one player is on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground (tackled player, tackler). At this point the offside lines are created. 
  • A player cannot kick the ball out of a ruck, they can only kick it in a backwards motion.



Each team will play 16 regular season matches, eight of which will come against the other four teams in their conference by playing home and away. The remaining eight games will be split amongst teams from the other two conferences, with four each.

A win is four points, a draw is two points and a loss is zero points (if the margin of victory is greater than eight points).

Bonus points

You get bonus points for a win if you score three or more tries than the opponent.

You get a losing bonus point if the margin of victory is between one and seven points.


In Super Rugby 2018 the winners of each conference will proceed to the play-offs all securing home games for the quarter-finals. They will be seeded one to three.

The fourth seed will be the team with the highest number of points but not a conference winner, and will qualify to have a home match during the quarter-finals.

Seeds five to eight will be wildcards determined by their final points tally at the end of the season.

Top Seed: The Lions, with a 14-1 record, topped the table last season, and yet lost a home final against the Crusaders (Getty Images)

As a result the play-offs will look like this:

Quarter-final One – Number 1 vs Number 8

Quarter-final Two – Number 4 vs Number 5

Quarter-final Three – Number 2 vs Number 7

Quarter-final Four – Number 3 vs Number 6

Semi-final One – Winner QF1 vs Winner QF2

Semi-final Two – Winner QF3 vs Winner QF4

Final – Winner SF1 vs Winner SF2