Next season’s Super Rugby match schedule has been announced by SANZAAR. Dates are now set for the domestic calendar, where the 2020 Super Rugby draw sees an earlier start date, as well as new match-start times.
In reaction to survey results, and feedback from stakeholders, match-start times will move from 7:40pm to 7:15pm (in Australia), and from 7:35pm to 7:05pm (in New Zealand) – in a bid to make the games more appealing to families.
The opening fixtures have also moved. The first weekend of the 21-week long 2020 Super Rugby draw starts on Friday, January 31. Super Rugby CEO Andy Marinos said in a media release, “2020 will see a season of uninterrupted action from February to July due to the shift of the inbound international rugby window from June to July.
“An earlier than usual start was required to get through the 21-week tournament, with a week’s break leading into the July test series.”
2020 Super Rugby draw sees new Match-start times
Marinos went on to say, “The complexity of the draw and managing logistics and scheduling that delivers a draw that is fair and equitable has been our priority. This has been achieved with a consultative and collaborative approach with the national unions, Super Rugby teams, and Broadcasters.”
The broadcast agreement for each partner-country is due for renewal in 2021, so this will be the final season under the existing Conference format. With the reduction in teams already planned for 2021, this new 2020 season is the last for the Sunwolves. This will make for a challenging time for the Japanese franchise, with motivation the key to that team’s fortunes.
With matches played in both Tokyo and in Singapore, the 2020 Super Rugby draw is spread over the 18-week regular season, with matches played in Argentina, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Africa.
The World Rugby international test match window for inbound matches/tours to Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, is now in July. This allows Super Rugby to be played uninterrupted across the 21-week time frame (including the three-week Finals series).
SANZAAR partners react to new Match-start times
New Zealand Rugby chief rugby officer Nigel Cass said the change to earlier kick-off times had been driven by fan feedback. “Our fans told us quite clearly they’d prefer matches to start and finish earlier. All five of our Investec Super Rugby clubs have listened and both our Sanzaar partners and [broadcaster] Sky agreed to the changes.”
In an NZR media release, Cass said, “For families and for those with young kids, in particular, a later kick-off can present some challenges, especially when the weather doesn’t come to the party.
“The earlier kick-off times mean matches will finish a little earlier, which we think is a bit more fan-friendly for everyone.”
— Super Rugby/TRC (@SuperRugby) September 10, 2019
Cass said NZR reached out to thousands of fans and people involved in rugby, as Super Rugby plans for its 25th professional rugby season.
Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle said in a release, “After one of the closest Aussie Conference races on record last season, we are looking forward to seeing our teams take their performance to another level in 2020.”
View the 2020 Super Rugby draw here.
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