Super Rugby AU gets February start

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The ACT Brumbies won the inaugural Super Rugby AU competition in September 2020
The ACT Brumbies won the inaugural Super Rugby AU competition in September 2020

Super Rugby AU will kick-off in February and follow the same format as the inaugural domestic competition introduced last year, Rugby Australia said Wednesday.

RA said the tournament would again feature five teams competing over 10 regular-season rounds, with a two-match finals series.

The opening round on February 19 will feature Queensland Reds against Waratahs in Brisbane and Western Force taking on defending champions ACT Brumbies in Perth.

The grand final will take place on May 8.

Last year's competition was launched in July after the coronavirus pandemic forced the suspension of the southern hemisphere's 15-team Super Rugby tournament.

New Zealand's domestic competition, Super Rugby Aotearoa, will also launch in February, although it will be tweaked slightly from last year to include a grand final.

Also featuring five teams, it will kick off on February 26, when Otago Highlanders face defending champions Canterbury Crusaders in Dunedin, culminating in a grand final on May 8.

Rugby officials in both Australia and New Zealand reportedly hope their teams can play a trans-Tasman series after their respective finals, although it will depend on whether virus-related border restrictions have been eased.

ns/dm/fox