Today marks a big day in sport, with the return of what is possibly the most important aspect of live competitive sport – the crowd. Crowds create the atmosphere which makes sport so special, something which has been lacking in matches played behind closed doors.
New Zealand has managed their COVID-19 pandemic better than most, with restrictions now being lifted and no limit on the size of crowds.
As you may know, Super Rugby is a rugby union competition, consisting of 15 teams from Argentina, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa. The 2020 season started in January but was halted on the 15th March due to increasing travel restrictions due to the pandemic.
However with travel restrictions still in place across much of the world, both New Zealand and Australia decided to each run their own domestic competition.
Super Rugby AU (Australia) is due to start on Friday the 3rd July, currently behind closed doors. Which leaves New Zealand in the unique position of being the first professional rugby competition in the world for crowds to return.
Who is playing in Super Rugby Aotearoa?
The five New Zealand Super Rugby teams will be competing in Super Rugby Aotearoa:
It hasn’t been much fun for Blues fans in recent years, not winning the Super Rugby since 2003 and prior to the 2020 season, were on an 25-match losing streak away to the Crusaders, Hurricanes, Highlanders and the Chiefs. However prior to the regular Super Rugby competition being halted, they were second in the New Zealand Conference with 5 wins from 7. With the signing of All Blacks legend Dan Carter to current star Beauden Barrett, this could be their time.
Blues Squad: Alex Hodgman, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Sione Mafileo, Marcel Renata, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, James Parsons, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Josh Goodhue, Jacob Pierce, Patrick Tuipulotu, Tom Robinson, Blake Gibson, Akira Ioane, Dalton Papalii, Hoskins Sotutu, Sam Nock, Jonathan Ruru, Otere Black, Stephen Perofeta, Harry Plummer, TJ Faiane, Tamati Tua, Caleb Clarke, Matt Duffie, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Findlay Christie, Kurt Eklund, Tony Lamborn, Emoni Narawa, Luteru Tolai, Mark Telea, Aaron Carroll, Joe Marchant, Jack Heighton, Waimana Reidlinger-Kapa, Jordan Hyland, Jared Page, Dan Carter (injury replacement).
Former Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland had a solid start to life at the Chiefs, running third in New Zealand Conference with 4 wins from 6. Led by the new All Blacks captain, Sam Cane along with Brodie Retallick, Damian McKenzie and Aaron Cruden, the Chiefs have a chance.
Chiefs Squad: Nathan Harris, Bradley Slater, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Donald Maka, Ryan Coxon, Nepo Laulala, Atunaisa Moli, Reuben O’Neill, Aidan Ross, Angus Ta’avao, Ross Geldenhuys, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Tyler Ardron, Michael Allardice, Laghlan McWhannell, Lachlan Boshier, Mitchell Brown, Sam Cane, Pita Gus Sowakula, Luke Jacobson, Mitchell Karpik, Dylan Nel, Adam Thompson, Tupou Vaai, Simon Parker, Lisati Milo-Harris, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Brad Weber, Aaron Cruden, Tiaan Falcon, Damian McKenzie, Kaleb Trask, Orbyn Leger, Anton Lienert-Brown, Tumua Manu, Alex Nankivell, Bailyn Sullivan, Solomon Alaimalo, Sam McNicol, Kini Naholo, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Shaun Stevenson, Quinn Tupaea, Sean Wainui.
Crusaders – Orangetheory Stadium (Christchurch, Canterbury)
The Crusaders are the most successful Super Rugby team, winning 10 titles in total, including the last three. They were leading the Conference when Super Rugby was halted, with their only loss coming to the Chiefs. With current All Black stars Richie Mo’unga, Jack Goodhue, Scott Barrett and Codie Taylor they are the favourites.
Crusaders Squad: Andrew Makalio, Brodie McAlister, Codie Taylor, Michael Alaalatoa, Harry Allan, George Bower, Oliver Jager, Joe Moody, Isileli Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Mitchell Dunshea, Luke Romano, Quinten Strange, Samuel Whitelock, Ethan Blackadder, Tom Christie, Whetukamokamo Douglas, Cullen Grace, Billy Harmon, Sione Havili Talitui, Ethan Roots, Tom Sanders, Mitchell Drummond, Ereatara Enari, Bryn Hall, Fergus Burke, Brett Cameron, Richie Mo’unga, Braydon Ennor, Jack Goodhue, Dallas McLeod, George Bridge, David Havili, Inga Finau, Will Jordan, Manasa Mataele, Fetuli Paea, Leicester Faingaanuku, Sevu Reece
Highlanders – Forsyth Bar Stadium (Dunedin, Otago)
The Highlanders had a difficult Super Rugby season so far, winning just one match from six. However they’d lost a lot of former stars but the signing of Nehe Milner-Skudder is a big boost.
Highlanders Squad: Ash Dixon, Liam Coltman, Ricky Jackson, Ethan de Groot, Josh Iosefa-Scott, Ayden Johnstone, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Jeff Thwaites, Siate Tokolahi, Josh Dickson, Pari Pari Parkinson, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Jack Whetton, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Shannon Frizel, Dillon Hunt, Zane Kapeli, Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, Sione Misiloi, Jesse Parete, Folau Fakatava, Kayne Hammington, Aaron Smith, Bryn Gatland, Mitchell Hunt, Josh Ioane, Michael Collins, Ngane Punivai, Rob Thompson, Patelesio Tomkinson, Teihorangi Walden, Scott Gregory, Chris Kuridrani, Josh McKay, Tevita Nabura, Jona Nareki, Connor Garden-Bachop, Thomas Umaga-Jensen, Vilimoni Koroi, Sam Gilbert, Nehe Milner-Skudder.
Hurricanes – Sky Stadium (Wellington, Wellington Region)
The Hurricanes had also made a solid start to the Super Rugby season, winning four from six. Their notable players include Ngani Laumape, Jordie Barrett and Ardie Savea so the Wellington based team will hope to have a decent tournament, last winning the competition in 2016.
Hurricanes Squad: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Ricky Riccitelli, Fraser Armstrong, Alex Fidow, Tyrel Lomax, Ben May, Xavier Numia, Pouri Rakete-Stones, James Blackwell, Devan Flanders, Kane Leaupepe (currently injured), Tevita Mafileo, Liam Mitchell, Scott Scrafton, Isaia Walker-Leaware, Gareth Evans, Vaea Fifita, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Reed Prinsep, Ardie Savea, Murphy Taramai Jamie Booth, TJ Perenara, Jonathan Taumateine, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Fletcher Smith, Vince Aso, Jordie Barrett, Ngani Laumape, Jonah Lowe, Billy Proctor, Danny Toala, Peter Umaga-Jensen, Kobus van Wyk, Wes Goosen, Ben Lam, Salesi Rayasi, Chase Tiatia
Super Rugby Aotearoa Match Schedule
Super Rugby Aotearoa will be taking place over 10 rounds over consecutive weekends, starting on Saturday 13th June and finishing on Sunday 16th August 2020.
The competition will be a double round robin format, with each team playing each other twice over home and away fixtures. There will be several differences to the competition including:
- Drawn matches to be decided by extra time golden point
- Red carded players can be replaced after 20 minutes
- Referees to enforce breakdown rules to create a faster and safer game
Saturday 13th June 2020 (19:05 NZ/08:05 UK) – Highlanders 28-27 Chiefs (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)
Sunday 14th June 2020 (15:35 NZ/04:35 UK) – Blues 30-20 Hurricanes (Eden Park, Auckland)
Saturday 20th June 2020 (19:05 NZ/08:05 UK) – Chiefs 12-24 Blues (FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton)
Sunday 21st June 2020 (15:35 NZ/04:35 UK) – Hurricanes 25-39 Crusaders (Sky Stadium, Wellington)
Saturday 27th June 2020 (19:05 NZ/08:05 UK) – Blues v Highlanders (Eden Park, Auckland)
Sunday 28th June 2020 (15:35 NZ/04:35 UK) – Crusaders v Chiefs (Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch)
Saturday 4th July 2020 (19:05 NZ/08:05 UK) – Highlanders v Crusaders (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)
Sunday 5th July 2020 (15:35 NZ/04:35 UK) – Chiefs v Hurricanes (FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton)
Saturday 11th July 2020 (19:05 NZ/08:05 UK) – Crusaders v Blues (Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch)
Sunday 12th July 2020 (15:35 NZ/04:35 UK) – Hurricanes v Highlanders (Sky Stadium, Wellington)
Saturday 18th July 2020 (19:05 NZ/08:05 UK) – Hurricanes v Blues (Sky Stadium, Wellington)
Sunday 19th July 2020 (15:35 NZ/04:35 UK) – Chiefs v Highlanders (FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton)
Saturday 25th July 2020 (19:05 NZ/08:05 UK) – Crusaders v Hurricanes (Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch)
Sunday 26th July 2020 (15:35 NZ/04:35 UK) – Blues v Chiefs (Eden Park, Auckland)
Saturday 1st August 2020 (19:05 NZ/08:05 UK) – Chiefs v Crusaders (FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton)
Sunday 2nd August 2020 (15:35 NZ/04:35 UK) – Highlanders v Blues (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)
Saturday 8th August 2020 (19:05 NZ/08:05 UK) – Hurricanes v Chiefs (Sky Stadium, Wellington)
Sunday 9th August 2020 (15:35 NZ/04:35 UK) – Crusaders v Highlanders (Orangetheory Stadium, Christchurch)
Saturday 15th August 2020 (19:05 NZ/08:05 UK) – Highlanders v Hurricanes (Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin)
Sunday 16th August 2020 (15:35 NZ/04:35 UK) – Blues v Crusaders (Eden Park, Auckland)
How do I get tickets to Super Rugby Aotearoa?
With New Zealand allowing crowds in sports events, you have the opportunity to watch some great Super Rugby action. The authorised ticket sellers for each team are:
Blues – Tickets for the Blues are available to purchase through Ticketmaster. General admission tickets start at $26 for Adults (including transaction fee) and free for Children.
Chiefs – Tickets for the Chiefs are available to purchase through Ticket Rocket. Further ticket information is available on the Chiefs website, with tickets starting at $15 for Adults and $8 for Children.
Crusaders – Tickets for the Crusaders are available to purchase through Ticketek. Tickets go on sale on Tuesday 23rd June 2020.
Highlanders – Tickets for the Highlanders are available to purchase through Ticketek. Tickets start at $42.50 for Adults or $32 including a ticket for a child.
Hurricanes – Tickets for the Hurricanes are available to purchase through Ticketek. Ticket information has yet to be released.
Super Rugby Aotearoa Official Website: www.superrugby.co.nz
Blues Official Website: https://blues.rugby
Chiefs Official Website: www.chiefs.co.nz
Crusaders Official Website: https://crusaders.co.nz
Highlanders Official Website: https://thehighlanders.co.nz
Hurricanes Official Website: www.hurricanes.co.nz
Crowds are back. WE ON ? pic.twitter.com/HEplhPkYvt— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) June 8, 2020