Blockbustre 2012 Super 15
Cape town - The excitement generated during the final stages of this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby tournament will resume when the 2012 Super Rugby season kicks off in February.Click here for 2012's Super Rugby fixtures
The 2012 Super Rugby draw was released on Friday by SANZAR, with the first weekend of the new season featuring several high profile local derbies that are certain to get the tournament off to a flying start.
In South Africa, the Bulls will host the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday, 24 February 2012. This is a replay of the 2007 Super 14 Final in Durban, where the Bulls became the first South African side to win this competition.
The following day, on Saturday, 24 February 2012, the Stormers take on the Hurricanes in Cape Town and the Lions face the Cheetahs in Johannesburg.
The first game of the new season will be at Eden Park in Auckland, when the top two finishing teams in New Zealand in 2011, the Blues and the Crusaders, clash on Friday 24 February, 2012.
The Rebels have a first round bye.
The Cheetahs will be the first South African team to tour, when they leave after their second round match against the Bulls in Bloemfontein. They face the Brumbies, Rebels, Crusaders and Hurricanes in Australia and New Zealand.
Thereafter follow the respective away legs for the Sharks, Stormers, Bulls and Lions.
SANZAR CEO, Greg Peters, said the draw was the culmination of months of liaison with the 15 franchises, the three host broadcasters, venue owners and other stakeholders.
“When you play a competition over three geographical territories separated by the Indian Ocean, preparing the draw is always going to be challenging,” Peters said. “We wanted to ensure that the 2012 competition started with some key match-ups in each territory.
“As was the case in 2011, the first few rounds of play will feature a majority of local derbies before most teams begin travelling from week 3 onwards,” Peters said.
“The season will run for 15 weeks to 2 June after which there will be a three-week break for in-bound tours to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The season will resume on the weekend of 29 and 30 June with the staging of a further three rounds before the playoffs. The bulk of these matches will again be local derbies,” he said.
The three Conference winners and three best-placed ‘wildcards’ will advance to the Finals Series, that will be held over three weeks, commencing on 20/21 July with a Qualifier round, semi-finals on 27/28 July, and culminating in the Super Rugby Final on Saturday 4 August.