2020 Super Rugby fixtures confirmed

2020 Super Rugby fixtures confirmed

Next year's Super Rugby season has been brought forward to late January, organisers said Tuesday, the height of the southern hemisphere summer with tennis and cricket fixtures still in full swing.

Sbu Nkosi Sharks

Kick-off times will also be 25-30 minutes earlier for evening matches in a bid to create a more family-friendly environment for the competition.

"We believe (this) will be widely welcomed by rugby fans and will give young families an opportunity to get out and enjoy the night at the rugby," Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said.

The tournament will kick off on Friday, January 31 (08:05 SA time) with the Blues hosting the Chiefs in the first match in Auckland.

In the day's second match, the Brumbies tackle the Reds in an all-Australia derby in Canberra (10:15 SA time).

Later that evening, the Sharks entertain the Bulls in all-South African derby in Durban (19:10).

The Stormers open their account against the Hurricanes the following day in Cape Town (Saturday, February 1 - 15:05), while the Lions are away to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires (23:40 SA time).

Other matches on the opening weekend see the Sunwolves duel the Rebels in Fukuoka (Saturday, February 1 - 05:45 SA time) and the Crusaders host the Waratahs in Nelson (Saturday, February 1 - 08:05 SA time).

Unlike previous non-World Cup years, there will be no mid-season break in June to accommodate internationals because the Test window has been shifted to July.

As a result, the season will run from January 31 to June 20, rather than mid-February to early August.

It means the opening weekend will clash with the climax of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne.

The England cricket team's tour of South Africa will also be getting underway in early February, while New Zealand's Black Caps are hosting India.

The 2020 season will be the last employing Super Rugby's unpopular conference system, which critics say is too complicated and does not result in the best teams making the finals.

It will also be the farewell season for Japan's Sunwolves after SANZAAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby) booted out the Tokyo-based team, which was introduced in 2016 to grow rugby in Asia.

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