The Crusaders will begin the defence of their Super Rugby Aotearoa title in the tournament opener against the Highlanders in Dunedin on 26 February.
New Zealand Rugby (NZR) has announced the draw for the 2021 edition of their domestic Super Rugby tournament, which will feature 10 weeks of derby matches before a final on Saturday, 8 May.
The second edition of Super Rugby Aotearoa will kick off at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Friday, 26 February where the Highlanders will host the defending champion Crusaders, with the Hurricanes and Blues rounding off round one at Sky Stadium in Wellington the following day.
The Chiefs will have the opening-round bye before hosting the Highlanders at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on Friday, 5 March.
NZR general manager professional rugby and performance Chris Lendrum said the 2021 season would build on the excitement generated by the first edition of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
‘We saw how exciting this home-and-away format was last year, and all five teams now know what’s required to compete and win every week,’ Lendrum said. ‘With the availability of the All Blacks locked in for round one there are going to be fireworks from the opening whistle.
‘It’s fantastic to have some certainty for fans, players and partners after what’s been a year of uncertainty. Confirming the 2021 draw is a significant milestone and a positive step for rugby in New Zealand and we’re thrilled to have our broadcast partner Sky come on board as naming rights sponsor.’
Each team will have four home matches and two byes with the final to be contested by the top two qualifying teams.
‘We’ve listened to the fans and our players and added a final, which we think will provide a fitting climax to the competition,’ Lendrum said.
Lendrum also confirmed NZR is working closely with Rugby Australia on a trans-Tasman competition and would announce details shortly.
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