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Dublin: 16°C Monday 28 September 2020

Super Rugby start brought forward, will coincide with Six Nations opening weekend

A few nice warm-up matches to get you up to speed before the internationals.

Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson celebrates his side's title win wit his now-traditional breakdance.
Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson celebrates his side's title win wit his now-traditional breakdance.
Image: Photosport/Martin Hunter/INPHO

THE 2020 SUPER rugby season has been brought forward to the last day in January, and will coincide with the Six Nations.

The opening weekend of the southern hemisphere club competition ordinarily kicks off in mid-February, but has been brought forward a fortnight and its opening weekend will coincide with the climax of tennis’ Australian Open as well as the jewel in the northern hemisphere rugby schedule.

With the Test window pushed to July, the 2020 Super Rugby tournament will also run off without a mid-season break, which has previous been a feature in non-World Cup years.

Organisers Sanzaar say that slightly earlier kick-off times will also help create and family friendly environment.

“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,” said Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle.

World Rugby have been working towards creating a ‘global season’, attempting to get  southern and northern hemisphere nations syncing up their schedules for a sport both traditionally opt to play through the winter.

A proposed 12-nation cross-hemisphere competition for 2020 faced opposition from the Six Nations and the International Rugby Players Council voiced concerns over player welfare.

Last week, after his New Zealand side defeated Tonga 92-7, head coach Steve Hansen was asked if Pacific nations need more opportunities to play serious Tests to remain competitive.

“The problem that we’ve got is a calendar that doesn’t allow you to do that,” Hansen said.

“We have these wonderful ideas about growing the game but we don’t have an organisation at the top that wants to be strong enough to say ‘righto, this is what we’re doing, we’re going to have a global season.

The Six Nations rule world Test rugby programs. They don’t want to give that up and until they’re prepared to give that up, we’re not going to see any progress in that area.”

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While the southern hemisphere club and northern hemisphere international tournaments begin on the same weekend, the disparity in time zones mean most matches will not clash in round one. However, the Six Nations opener between Wales and Italy (kick-off 14.15 Irish time) will get underway before the full-time hooter goes in the Stormers’ clash with the Hurricanes in Cape Town (13.05).

Ireland will open their Six Nations campaign under Andy Farrell later that day against Scotland (16.45).

The 25th season of Super Rugby will be the last under the conference system as Japan’s Sunwolves, introduced in a bid to grow the game across Asia, will be disbanded after the season.

With the warm-up games out of the way, Murray, Bernard and Gavan discuss the renewed cause for optimism, impressive individual player form, and a potential quarter-final versus either South Africa or New Zealand.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Sean Farrell

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