SANZAAR has announced the tournament dates for the 2019 Vodacom Super Rugby competition that will kick-off on Friday 15 February when the Chiefs host the Highlanders in New Zealand, with the Cell C Sharks getting local proceedings underway with an away clash against the Sunwolves.
All four South African teams will be in action on the opening weekend – the Vodacom Bulls host the DHL Stormers and the Emirates Lions play away against the Jaguares – and the Final will take place on Saturday 6 July.
As there will be no June Tests in 2019 – due to Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan later in the year – Vodacom Super Rugby will run uninterrupted for 21 weeks.
There will also be a uniform start to the tournament in Round 1, with a full round of seven matches to kick-off Vodacom Super Rugby.
The tournament’s 15-team, three-conference format remains the same. Each team plays 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 have two byes. This is a total of 120 matches in the regular season that will be followed by a seven-match, eight-team finals series.
Australia Conference: Brumbies, Rebels, Reds, Waratahs, Sunwolves
New Zealand Conference: Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes
South African Conference: Vodacom Bulls, Emirates Lions, Cell C Sharks, DHL Stormers, Jaguares
The Vodacom Super Rugby Finals series will also remain unchanged with each of the three Conference winners qualifying for and hosting a quarter-final.
The team with the most tournament points that is not a Conference winner, regardless of Conference, will host the fourth quarter-final. This Wildcard team will be joined in the quarter-finals by the next best four Wildcards teams based on tournament points and regardless of Conference.
The released schedule confirms all tournament match dates and kick-off times. However, the match venues will be announced later in the year once teams have determined where their home matches will be allocated.