Sunwolves drawn in Australian Super Rugby conference

Paola Ditto
Settembre 21, 2017

Under the 15-team format for 2018, Australia's four teams will play each other home and away, intensifying the battle for the all-important conference honours that guarantee a finals berth.

Super Rugby expanded to 18 teams a year ago with the addition of Argentina's Jaguares, the Sunwolves and South Africa's Kings, but organisers were forced to rethink the move amid unrest from fans and broadcasters over its complicated structure.

There will be 120 regular-season matches, then eight teams will qualify for the finals. Each team will play eight home and eight away games.

The 2018 season will kick off in Cape Town at 15h05 on Saturday, 17 February when the DHL Stormers host the Jaguares from Argentina, with the second match, a replay of one of this year's Qualifiers between the Emirates Lions and Cell C Sharks, set for the same day at 17h15 at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg.

Crusaders start the defence of their title with a home clash versus Chiefs.

"Super Rugby is one of, if not the best club rugby tournaments in the world highlighted this year by a global TV audience of almost 50 million and a final crowd in Johannesburg of 60,000", Marinos said via a media release.

"We can not hide away from the high performance and financial realities of the game in the markets in which we play", Marinos said in a statement in releasing the draw.

"It was not an easy decision to reduce the number of teams, but a necessary one considering the outputs from the strategic review to date", Marinos said.

Marinos noted the assistance of the Australian- and South African Rugby Union in agreeing to cut teams, and put the heat on Japan's Sunwolves to improve their performances moving forward.

"Sanzaar respects that, as a outcome of this, Australia and South Africa have had to make some very hard decisions since our announcement in April that 2018 would revert to 15 teams".

2018 Super Rugby match schedule.

Outgoing Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver said the revised format was a win for rugby fans Down Under.

The 2018 Super Rugby season will open on February 17 with a match between the Cape Town-based Stormers and Argentina's Jaguares, and with Japan's Sunwolves moving to the Australian conference.

"The Brumbies are the defending Australian Conference champions but they will face a stern challenge from all other Australian teams after a busy off-season across the country".

"Once again it's going to be an incredibly close race to the finish and we are all hoping to see one of our Australian teams on the podium holding aloft that trophy come the first weekend in August". New Zealand's five teams have dominated the tournament for several seasons - taking four of the eight playoffs places in the last two years - but have not been rewarded for their form with home playoffs.

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