Lions start Super Rugby 2018 with home run
Johannesburg - The Lions will play six of their first eight matches in Super Rugby 2018 at Ellis Park, with trips to Pretoria and Buenos Aires also contributing to what is a favourable draw for the 2016 and 2017 runner-ups.
READ: SA CONFERENCE TO KICK OFF SUPER RUGBY 2018
With the change in the Super Rugby format seeing the tournament back down to 15 teams, the Lions will face a good mixture of sides from Australia and New Zealand which include the 2017 winners, the Crusaders, as well as the 2016 champions, the Hurricanes.
The Lions kick off their campaign on February 17 against the Sharks before hosting the Jaguares from Argentina at home on February 24.
This is followed by an away game against the Bulls at Loftus Versveld in Pretoria. These two teams also face each other in a pre-season warm-up on January 27 at Ellis Park.
Rudolf Straeuli, CEO of the Lions Rugby Company, expressed his satisfaction at the new tournament format.
"I would like to thank SANZAAR for the early release of these dates and fixtures as it will assist with planning both on the rugby side as well as commercially," he said.
"We believe that the reduced number of teams will enhance the value of this tournament for all stakeholders and re-establish Super Rugby as the leading club competition in the world."
Edgar Rathbone, managing director of EPS (Pty) Ltd, was delighted that all the Lions matches will be played on Saturdays and Sundays.
"It has been a challenge for our supporters to get to the stadium on Fridays," he said.
"Our supporters can now look forward to some exciting new season ticket packages that will be launched during October."
Lions 2018 Super Rugby fixtures (home matches in bold):
February 17: Lions v Sharks (17:15)
February 24: Lions v Jaguares (15:05)
March 3: Bulls v Lions - Pretoria
March 10: Lions v Blues (17:15)
March 17: Lions v Sunwolves (17:15)
March 24: Jaguares vs Emirates Lions - Buenos Aires
March 31: Lions v Crusaders (14:30)
April 7: Lions v Stormers (17:15)
April 14: Bye
April 21: Waratahs v Lions - Sydney
April 28: Reds v Lions - Brisbane
May 5: Hurricanes v Lions - Wellington
May 12 : Highlanders v Lions - Dunedin
May 19: Lions v Brumbies (17:15)
May 26: Stormers v Emirates Lions - Cape Town
June 30: Sharks v Emirates Lions - Durban
July 7: Bye
July 14: Lions v Bulls (15:05)