The draw for 2015's Super Rugby season has been released, with defending champions the Waratahs hosting Western Force in Round 1.
The draw for the 2015 Super Rugby season has been announced, with defending champions the Waratahs hosting Western Force in Round 1.
Seven-time champions the Crusaders will get the campaign underway when they welcome the Rebels to AMI Stadium on Friday, February 13. The match is the first of an opening night double-header with a fierce Australian derby between the Brumbies and Reds following in Canberra.
The Sharks and the Bulls launch their seasons at home with derbies against the Cheetahs and Stormers respectively while the Lions will host the Hurricanes at Ellis Park and come Sunday, all eyes will be focused on Allianz Stadium as the Waratahs meet the Force.
With the Anzac Centenary occurring in 2015, SANZAR has orchestrated the draw to ensure five matches involving Australian and New Zealand teams are played across this hugely significant weekend.
Back-to-back fixtures between Chiefs v Force and Brumbies v Highlanders on Friday April 24 see the round commence with clashes on either side of the Tasman before a pair of key derbies take centre stage on Anzac Day.
The Blues travel to Christchurch to renew their rivalry with the Crusaders before the Waratahs host the Rebels at ANZ Stadium in a battle between two traditional Australian foes who will vie for the Weary Dunlop Shield, a trophy bearing the name of a hero whose name resonates loudly throughout rugby and the armed forces.
“A great deal of thought and planning has gone into the 2015 draw and we are absolutely thrilled to have produced an outcome that sees Australian and New Zealand teams all in action across the Anzac Centenary weekend,” said SANZAR Chief Executive Greg Peters.
“It will be a tremendous occasion for people to come together to reflect on the significance of the day beyond the rugby field and we expect this will be a highly poignant and memorable occasion.”
All five matches of the 2014 Super Rugby Finals Series will recur during the 2015 Regular Season, including a re-match of the record-breaking Final when the Waratahs and Crusaders return to Sydney's ANZ Stadium in Round 15.
The season commences on the same weekend of February, but concludes one month earlier to allow national teams adequate time to prepare for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, which kicks off on 18 September. As a result, there will be no June Test window in the 2015 Super Rugby season.
With some venues unavailable due to a clash with other events, New Zealand teams are taking the opportunity to consider delivering their Super Rugby fixtures to alternative locations, particularly in regional areas.
“The 2015 season marks the final year of Super Rugby in its current format before the competition expands into a bold new era from 2016,” Mr Peters concluded.
“As we plan for the future, we also eagerly look forward to seeing how the coming season pans out following one of the most competitive years in the history of Super Rugby.”