Super Rugby Aotearoa was always intended as a one-off, stop-gap measure to fill the rugby void created due to the global coronavirus pandemic. The ongoing impacts of the pandemic mean that the competition could return next season, however.

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While New Zealand Rugby were originally hoping to have their newly created competition up and running in 2021, the ongoing back and forth with Rugby Australia coupled with the lack of certainty surrounding international travel appears to have forced the governing body’s hand, according to reports from Newshub.

The five-team NZ-only competition proved a huge hit with fans but reception from the players was mixed, with the tough physical derbies proving exceptionally hard on the body.

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According to Newshub, Super Rugby Aotearoa will return next year but there’s also a very real possibility of a Pacific side being included in the competition. Despite an even number of teams allowing for the season to run without byes, NZR would likely retain the two rest weekends for each team to prevent burnout.

In Australia, Super Rugby AU would also be played with the same format as this season – including three knockout matches at the tail-end of the season. Given the negative reception to the lack of a grand final in New Zealand, it would come as no surprise if NZR introduced at least one play-off match to decide the champion at the end of the regular season.

Following the two respective competitions, a crossover tournament between the two competitions is likely to be played.

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Were that the case this year, and the New Zealand teams were each seeded and played off against the corresponding side from Australia, the draw would likely be as follows:

Crusaders v Brumbies
Blues v Reds
Hurricanes v Rebels
Highlanders v Waratahs
Chiefs v Western Force

Sign-off on next year’s competition is expected within the next fortnight.

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