The second season of Super Rugby AU will kick off in February, returning top flight rugby union in Australia to its traditional autumn slot in 2021.
The five-team domestic competition filled the breach in Australia from July through September this year after the wider Super Rugby season was shut down in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With COVID-19 virtually eliminated in Australia, Super Rugby AU’s second instalment will be a genuine home-and-away season rather than having teams confined to biosecure hubs in eastern states as happened this year.
The season kicks off with a Friday double-header on Feb. 19 with Queensland Reds playing the New South Wales Waratahs at Lang Park in Brisbane, followed by Western Force hosting the defending champions ACT Brumbies in Perth.
All teams play each other twice over 10 rounds before the two-week finals series starts on May 1, as per the schedule released by Rugby Australia (RA) on Wednesday.
RA confirmed the schedule two days after announcing a three-year broadcasting deal worth A$100 million ($73 million) which has shored up the game’s financial position after months of uncertainty.
From Super Rugby’s second round, the deal includes a free-to-air broadcast of one Saturday game per week on the Nine Network. The other games will be carried on Nine’s streaming platform Stan.
Super Rugby was previously available only behind a pay-wall on pay TV provider Foxtel, which ends its two-decade long relationship with Australian rugby union at the end of the year.
New Zealand confirmed the schedule for the second season of their domestic Super Rugby Aotearoa on Tuesday.
Australia and New Zealand are working on organising a cross-over tournament, which could also involve South Africa’s Super Rugby teams, at the end of their domestic competitions.
SUPER RUGBY AU 2021 DRAW:
Queensland Reds v NSW Waratahs, Friday February 19, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Western Force v Brumbies, Friday February 19, HBF Park, Perth
Queensland Reds v Melbourne Rebels, Friday February 26, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Brumbies v NSW Waratahs, Saturday February 27, GIO Stadium, Canberra
NSW Waratahs v Western Force, Friday March 5, Venue TBC
Melbourne Rebels v Brumbies, Saturday March 6, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Western Force v Melbourne Rebels, Friday March 12, HBF Park, Perth
Brumbies v Queensland Reds, Saturday March 13, GIO Stadium, Canberra
Melbourne Rebels v NSW Waratahs, Friday March 19, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Queensland Reds v Western Force, Saturday March 20, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Brumbies v Western Force, Friday March 26, GIO Stadium, Canberra
NSW Waratahs v Queensland Reds, Saturday M arch 27, Venue TBC
NSW Waratahs v Brumbies, Friday April 2, Venue TBC
Melbourne Rebels v Queensland Reds, Saturday April 3, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Melbourne Rebels v Western Force, Friday April 9, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Queensland Reds v Brumbies, Saturday April 10, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels, Friday April 16, GIO Stadium, Canberra
Western Force v NSW Waratahs, Saturday April 17, HBF Park, Perth
Western Force v Queensland Reds, Friday April 23, HBF Park, Perth
NSW Waratahs v Melbourne Rebels, Saturday April 24, Venue TBC
Saturday 1 May
Saturday May 8
*All kick off times to be confirmed
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