Super Rugby started in 1996 with the advent of professional rugby. Super Rugby now involves franchise teams from the SANZAR countries: South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. In 2016, a team from Japan and a team from Argentina joined the competition.
The 2016 Super Rugby competition saw changes made with the addition of 3 new teams and format changes to allow for these teams. The new teams will be the Kings from South Africa, the Jaguares from Argentina and the Sunwolves from Japan. In 2017 the format remained the same.
In 2018 further changes were made. Three teams were removed from the competition - Western Force, Southern Kings and Cheetahs.
With the reduced number of teams the conferences were altered to suit. The New Zealand conference was unchanged, the Australian Conference had the Sunwolves replace the Western Force and there was only 1 conference in South Africa, which included the Jaguares.
The 3 conference winners and then the next 5 best teams, regardless of conference, made the play-offs.
There revised bonus point system remained in place, with teams receiving an attacking bonus point if they score three tries more than their opponents and a bonus point for losing by 7 or less.
In 2020 COVID-19 caused the cancellation of the rest of the season, after 7 rounds had been played. After a period of lock-downs, domestic competitions were started in each country.
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History of Super Rugby
Super Rugby started in 1996. With the advent of professionalism in rugby, the southern hemisphere rugby unions of New Zealand, Australia and South Africa created SANZAR (South Africa New Zealand Australia Rugby) to run an annual 12 team competition and an international series between the 3 countries. This was known as the Tri-Nations Championship (now The Rugby Championship, with 4 teams).
In 1996, the Super 12 had 5 teams from New Zealand, 4 from South Africa and 3 from Australia. The New Zealand teams were regionally based franchise teams set up for the competition. The Australian teams were based on the 3 leading state teams and the South African teams were based on Currie Cup placings.
Teams played in a league format, with matches against all 11 of the other teams. The top 4 then played semi-finals and a final.
In 2006, 2 new teams were added to the competition, creating the Super 14. There was 1 new team from Australia (Western Force) and 1 new team from South Africa (Cheetahs), making 5 from NZ, 5 from SA and 4 from Australia. The same format was used, making 13 games in the season.
In 2011 a further team, from Australia, was added to the competition making a total of 15, 5 from each country. Hence the name Super 15. With this addition the format was also changed. It now consisted of 3 regional conferences (by country) and each team within a conference played the other teams in the conference twice, home and away. They then also played 4 teams from each of the other conferences, making a 16 match season.
The top team from each conference qualifies for the finals, along with the next 3 teams, regardless of their nationality. The top 2 teams have a bye in the first round of the finals, the 3rd conference winner plays the 6th placed team at home and the 4th placed team plays the 5th placed team.
Following this the winners then played the top 2 teams for a place in the Final.
In 2013, in the Super 15 Rugby competition, the Southern Kings franchise replaced the Golden Lions in the South African conference.
In 2014, following a playoff series, the Golden Lions replaced the Southern Kings in the South African Conference.
In 2016 major changes were made with the addition of 3 new teams. These were the Southern Kings (South Africa), the Sunwolves (Japan) and the Jaguares (Argentina).
There will be 2 regional groups, the South African and Australasian Groups. The Australasian Group will have an Australian conference of 5 teams and a New Zealand conference of 5 teams.
The South African Group will have 2 conferences, one with 3 South African teams and the Sunwolves (Japan) and one with 3 South African teams and the Jaguares (Argentina).
The Australasian Group will have an Australian conference of 5 teams and a New Zealand conference of 5 teams.
In the South African conferences each team will play the other 3 teams on a home and away basis. They will also play each team in the other conference once and each team from one of the Australasian conferences.
In the Australasian conferences, each team will play two teams in their conference home and away. They will play the other 2 teams once, the teams in the other Australasian conference once and the teams in one of the South African conferences once.
The conference winners qualify
for the Quarter Finals. The next 3 teams in the Australasian Group and
the next best team in the South African Group also qualify. The
conference winners will have home matches.
The highest rated winning teams will have home matches in the play-off series, including the final.
There was also a change made to the bonus point system for the Super Rugby season. The old system under which teams received a bonus point for scoring four or more tries has been abolished and teams will now only receive an attacking bonus point if they score three tries more than their opponents.
In 2017 the same format was used.
In 2018 changes were again made to the competition. 3 teams were removed to revert back to a 15 team competition. Those teams were the Western Force from Australia, the Southern Kings and the Cheetahs from South Africa. The conferences were altered to suit the 15 team format, with the Sunwolves replacing the Western Force in the Australian Conference and only 1 South African Conference, including the Jaguares.
Qualification for the play-offs was the 3 conference winners and then the next 5 best teams, regardless of the conference they were from.
In 2019 and 2020 the same format was followed.
In 2020 the COVID 19 pandemic caused the indefinite postponement of the competition after 7 rounds had been completed. It was not restarted.
In 2021 New Zealand and Australia started domestic competitions again in February. This was followed by a Trans Tasman competition between the 5 teams from each country.
Number of Championship Wins