The domestic Super Rugby competition in New Zealand kicked off in June and was won by the Crusaders

Schedule For Super Rugby Aotearoa

While the coronavirus took a sledgehammer to most sport, a domestic Super Rugby competition kicked off in New Zealand in June.

Super Rugby Aotearoa involves the five New Zealand franchises – Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders and Hurricanes – playing each other in home-and-away fixtures over ten weeks, with the Crusaders crowned champions with a game to spare.

Crowds were permitted for the first nine rounds, but with a lockdown coming back into force in New Zealand in mid-August this was not possible for the final match weekend.

The Blues v Crusaders match, which was due to take place in Auckland on Sunday 16 August, has been cancelled and the resulted recorded a s draw, with both teams awarded two points.

The Highlanders v Hurricanes match in Dunedin on Saturday 15 August will now be played behind closed doors and the kick-off has been moved to the earlier time of 3.05pm (4.05am in the UK & Ireland).

Blues CEO Andrew Hore said: “Ten weeks ago we never thought we’d even have a competition, let alone one with fans. But instead we got nine weeks of incredible rugby, with three amazing home games and massive crowds. While this news is disappointing, we need to take a step back and be grateful for what we got, what it meant to our players, our sponsors and, most importantly, to our fans.”

Super Rugby Aotearoa also featured several innovations.

If a match is level after 80 minutes, the result will be decided by golden point extra-time. The first team to score – be it with a drop-goal, penalty or try – during a ten-minute period of extra-time will take the win. If neither team scores during extra-time, both teams will be awarded two points for the draw.

There is a change relating to red cards too. If a player is sent off, he can be replaced by another player after 20 minutes.

New Zealand Rugby head of professional rugby Chris Lendrum said: “While players should, and still will be, punished for foul play, red cards can sometimes have too much of an effect on a match.

“There are no winners when a player is red-carded, but paying rugby fans, players and coaches want to see a fair contest. Replacing a player after 20 minutes strikes the right balance.”

Another area being focused on is the breakdown, with referees being told to apply existing laws more strictly. The key focus points are:

  • Ball-carriers will be allowed only one dynamic movement after being tackled.
  • Crawling, or any secondary movement other than placing or passing, will be penalised.
  • Tacklers will be expected to roll away immediately in the direction of the sideline. This will be a referee’s “number one priority” at the tackle.
  • There will be “extra focus” on the offside line with defenders expected to be “clearly” onside to provide attacking teams more space.

Referee manager Bryce Lawrence said: “We’re confident we’ll see a contest that is faster, fairer, safer and easier to understand.”

Super Rugby Aotearoa Schedule

*Kick-offs are UK & Ireland time. All matches will be shown live on Sky Sports. If you don’t have a subscription to Sky but want to watch the matches, you can get a NowTV pass for daily, monthly or mobile access – find out more here.

Round One:

13 June – Highlanders 28-27 Chiefs
14 June – Blues 30-20 Hurricanes

Round Two:

20 June – Chiefs 12-24 Blues
21 June – Hurricanes 25-39 Crusaders

Round Three:

27 June – Blues 27-24 Highlanders
28 June – Crusaders 18-13 Chiefs

Round Four:

4 July – Highlanders 20-40 Crusaders
5 July – Chiefs 18-25 Hurricanes

Round Five:

11 July – Crusaders 26-15 Blues
12 July – Hurricanes 17-11 Highlanders

Round Six:

18 July – Hurricanes 29-27 Blues
19 July – Chiefs 31-33 Highlanders

Round Seven:

25 July – Crusaders 32-34 Hurricanes
26 July – Blues 21-17 Chiefs

Round Eight:

1 August – Chiefs 19-32 Crusaders
2 August – Highlanders 21-32 Blues

Round Nine:

8 August – Hurricanes 31-18 Chiefs
9 August – Crusaders 32-22 Highlanders

Round Ten:

15 August – Highlanders 38-21 Hurricanes
16 August – Blues v Crusaders – Match cancelled due to Covid-19 and result recorded as a 0-0 draw, with both teams awarded two points.

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