Super Rugby AU will continue as a domestic competition in 2021 with plans afoot for a post-season cross-over competition with New Zealand teams.
Featuring the five Australian teams, the competition opens on 19 February and will be played over 12 weekends with the final on 8 May.
In a repeat of this year’s finals format, won by the Brumbies, the team that finishes top after 10 rounds will host the final against the winner of a qualifying final between second and third.
A Saturday night match will be telecast live on Rugby Australia’s new broadcast partner Nine Entertainment Co. while the other matches will be shown on their streaming service Stan Sports, in a deal announced this week.
With Super Rugby to be shown on free-to-air for the first time, rugby heavyweights Queensland and NSW dominate those matches, featuring in all but one round.
In the draw announced on Wednesday, Queensland will host the Waratahs at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium in the season-opener, followed later that night by the Western Force and Brumbies in Perth, with the Rebels having a first-round bye.
“Super Rugby AU was terrific in 2020 and will get better next year as this next crop of Australian Rugby stars continue to develop, and they are complemented by some genuinely talented international players who have since arrived on our shores,” Rugby Australia boss Rob Clarke said.
Details of the post-season competition with New Zealand following their own domestic competition, Super Rugby Aotearoa, are expected to be announced shortly.