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The Super 14 is the largest rugby union football club championship in the southern hemispheremarker, consisting of four teams from Australia (Queensland/Reds, New South Wales/Waratahs, Southern NSW & ACT/Brumbies, and Western Australia/Force), five teams from New Zealandmarker (Blues, Chiefs, Hurricanes, Crusaders, and Highlanders), and five teams from South Africa (Free State/Cheetahs, Western Cape/Stormers, Kwazulu Natal/Sharks, Gauteng/Lions, Northern Gauteng/Bulls). The fourteen sides all play against one another once in the regular season, with no divisional or pool system. With each team granted one bye week, this phase of the competition runs for fourteen weeks.

The teams are ranked according to the number of competition points they accrue throughout the season. Competition points are awarded as follows:

- 4 for winning a match

- 2 for drawing a match

Additional Bonus Points are awarded as follows:

- 1 Bonus Point for scoring four or more tries in a match

- 1 Bonus Point for losing by seven or fewer points

Teams can score up to two additional bonus points in each regular season match. One bonus point will be awarded to any team that scores four tries or more in a single game, regardless of win/loss/draw. A bonus point will also be awarded to the losing side if the margin of loss is 7 points or less. Only the losing side can achieve the maximum 2 bonus points.

The teams in the top four places on the competition ladder after the regular season enter the two-week knockout phase of the tournament. Two semi-finals (in which the top-ranked team hosts the fourth, and second-ranked hosts the third) are contested to decide the two finalists, which is played at the highest ranked winner's home ground, as opposed to a pre-selected neutral venue.

The current competition was inaugurated in 1996, and from the first season through to 2005, the competition was known as Super 12; the name change came about following the expansion for the 2006 season. The term Super Rugby is sometimes used when talking about the Super 14 and Super 12 collectively. Matches are now broadcast in 41 countries.

Competition format and sponsorship

Format

The Super 14 is a round-robin competition where each team plays with every other team once; a team has six or seven home games, and six or seven away games each. There are 91 regular season games in total. Games are held over 14 weekends with each team receiving one bye. The Super 14 uses the Rugby union bonus points system. The top four teams at the end of the round-robin phase then play semifinals - the first placed team hosts the fourth placed team, and the second placed team hosts the third placed team. The two winners then play the final at the home ground of the top surviving seed.

SANZAR

SANZAR is a joint union between the South African, New Zealand and Australian rugby Unions, that oversees the Super 14 and Tri Nations. There have always been rumours that South Africa may one day leave the Super 14 and Tri Nations to join the Six Nations in the Northern Hemispheremarker because South Africa's timezone would suit the move. The Tri Nations takes place after the Super 14 season, between South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Logo

During the last season of the Super 12, Coast Design, Sydney was commissioned to design a new logo for the Super 14. The Super 14 logo breaks away from the traditional shield formats, common to many sporting codes, and uses Roman numerals (XIV) which is unique for sport in the region. The game's dynamism and speed are suggested by the orbiting football which has three distinct stitches, a subtle reference to the three countries of the tournament.

Before the expansion to the Super 14, the Super 12 used a logo in the shape of a shield, which had the sponsors name at the top, and then the words "Rugby" and "Super 12". The lower half of the logo used three different coloured stripes, green, black and gold, the respective colours of the national teams of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Naming rights

The naming rights for the competition are different in the three countries:
  • In New Zealand, sporting goods retailer Rebel Sport has naming rights and the competition is referred to as the Rebel Sport Super 14. Previously Ubix and then Telecom New Zealand (TNZ). Telecom used its ISP brand Xtra as the label in their last year of holding naming rights.
  • In Australia, the Investec Bank has naming rights and the competition is referred to as the Investec Super 14. Previously the Tooheys New Super 14, after the Tooheys New brand of the Tooheys brewery. Vodafone has also previously held naming rights in Australia.
  • In South Africa, telecommunications carrier Vodacom has naming rights and the competition is referred to as the Vodacom Super 14.


History

Super 6 & Super 10

Before 1996, regular competitive rugby union had taken shape in a number of southern hemisphere competitions, the earliest of which was the South Pacific Championship, which was launched in 1986. The original competition consisted of three teams from New Zealand; Auckland, Canterbury, Wellington along with two Australian teams; Queensland and New South Wales, and Fiji. The competition was relaunched as the Super Six in 1992.

In 1993, the Super 10 replaced the South Pacific Championship and Super Six tournaments. With South Africa being readmitted into international sport following the dismantling of apartheid, there was an opportunity to launch an expanded competition which would also feature South Africa's top provincial teams. The inaugural competition featured the following teams: Waikato, Auckland, Otago and North Harbour (New Zealand); Natal Sharks, Transvaal and Northern Transvaal (South Africa); Queensland and New South Wales (Australia), Western Samoa (Pacific Nations representative). The Super 10 was won by Transvaal (South Africa) in 1993, and by Queensland (Australia) in 1994 and 1995.

Super 12

The official declaration of professionalism in rugby union in August 1995 led to a restructuring of the Super 10 competition. Following the success of the 1995 World Cup Australia, New Zealand and South Africa rugby boards formed SANZAR (South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby) to administer an annual 12-team provincial competition pitting regional teams from the three nations against each other. In addition it was decided to hold an annual Tri-Nations Test Series between the three countries. A significant reason for the development of the Super 12 was the threat to rugby union from rival football code US$ 555 million, giving them both coverage and financial support to kickstart the new competition.

With significant sponsorship, and rugby turning a professional sport in 1995, the Super 12 competition successfully kicked off in 1996 with five domestic New Zealand, four domestic South African and three domestic Australian teams competing. New Zealand's dominance of the competition began in the first year when the Auckland Blues won the inaugural competition defeating South African side the Natal Sharks 45 - 21 in a home final. The Blues would repeat the success of 1996 beating Australian side the ACT Brumbies 23 - 7 in the 1997 final.

Auckland then reached their third successive final in 1998 but went down to fellow countrymen the Canterbury Crusaders 13 - 20. This would mark the beginning of the Crusaders' three-year dominance as they went on to win the 1999 and 2000 finals over the Otago Highlanders and ACT Brumbies respectively. The 2001 season was the first in which no New Zealand franchise reached the final, being contested between the ACT Brumbies and Natal Sharks with the Brumbies convincing winners, with a 36 - 6 scoreline.

The Crusaders won their 4th final in 2002 and missed out on their 5th in 2003 with a four-point loss to fellow countrymen the Blues. In 2004 the Brumbies took revenge on their 2000 final loss to the Crusaders defeating them 47 - 38 in front of a home crowd. The Crusaders would bounce back to win the 2005 final 35 - 25 against the Australian side the New South Wales Waratahs who reached their first ever final. This was the last year of the 12 team format.

From the early 2000s Australia had started to push for the inclusion of a fourth Australian team, and South Africa for another team from its country. There was also speculation of including a team from the South Pacific Island nations, such as Fiji; or a combined Pacific Islanders team from Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. Argentina was also pushing for inclusion in the Super 12.

Super 14

In September 2004, SANZAR began negotiations for a new television deal to take effect in 2006. That December, SANZAR announced that a new TV deal had been signed, with News Corporation winning the rights for the UKmarker, Australia and New Zealand and Supersport winning rights for South Africa. The contract is worth USD 323 million over five years, which is a 16% annual increase compared to the previous deal. It covers international fixtures as well as the Super 14. SANZAR remained free to negotiate separate deals for other markets, such as Francemarker, Japanmarker and the Americas.

The TriNations is the "cash cow" for the SANZAR partners as it provides nearly 60 per cent of the money from News Ltd. The Super 14 made up about 30 per cent of the deal.

Under the new deal, Australia and South Africa each got one extra team in the competition, and a third round of fixtures was added to the Tri Nations Series. The proposal also included the possibility of splitting the updated Super 14 into two seven-team divisions, but it was decided to keep the competition in its traditional single-table format. However, Argentina and the Pacific Islands remain shut out of the competition under this proposal.

It was confirmed in 2005 that the new Australian team in the competition would be based in Perthmarker and was named the Western Force. The addition of the new South African team led to considerable controversy, including government involvement. Finally, the five teams for 2006 were confirmed to be the country's existing four teams, plus the Central Cheetahs, which draws its players from the Free Statemarker and Northern Cape Provinces.
The Cats (now the Lions) playing the Sharks.


The two new teams didn't perform all that well, the South African franchise the Cheetahs did the better of the two teams finishing 10th on the ladder notching up 5 season wins. The Australian franchise the Western Force only managed one victory and ended winning the wooden spoon as last placed 14th. The highlight for the Force was a 23-all draw against eventual champions the Crusaders, who defeated first-time finalists the Wellington Hurricanes 19 - 12.

For the 2007 season, 22 All Blacks missed the competition's first seven rounds as part of an All Black "conditioning programme". The conditioning programme was a part of the All Blacks' 2007 Rugby World Cup preparations, and every New Zealand franchise was without players for the first seven rounds.At the end of the regular season, for the first time since 1998, no Australian franchise had made the semi-finals. Although the Brumbies were strong and the Western Force experienced vast improvement it was a poor season for the Queensland Reds and Waratahs who finished last and second last respectively. Even with the 22 All Blacks back for the second half of the competition the New Zealand teams could not get back to the full strengths that has been seen in previous years. Also, it was known before the final that the competition would be won for the first time ever by a South African team, as the Sharks and Bulls, who finished 1-2 on the season ladder, both won their respective semifinals. The final, held in Durbanmarker, saw the visiting Bulls win 20-19.

Future

Early reports suggested that South Africa may withdraw from the Super 14 post-2010. It has been speculated that South Africa may want to align themselves with the European nations instead, because of the better time zone and travel issues. Some South African officials feel they are disadvantaged because of the long away legs of the tournament.

In a later development, South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins expressed his desire for two Argentina teams be included into the competition, expanding it to a "Super 16". It was hoped this could happen as part of Argentina's entry into the Tri Nations. However it was agreed at the end of 2007 that Argentina will not join the Tri Nations until 2012 at the earliest, with the key to admission being Argentina's agreement to establish a professional domestic rugby structure.

Mid way through the 2008 Super 14 Series the NZRU started to desire more urgent, and radical changes to the Super 14 tournament. This change in view came about after the news that many key players would be looking to move North after their contracts had expired, to play in European competitions where more money could be earned. Broadcast figures for the Super 14 series were also down as much as 20%.

A recent idea by the ARU, supported by the NZRU, included the introduction of a conference system similar to that seen in North America (with the addition of a fifteenth franchise) to be introduced for the 2010 season - although this has now been put back to 2011, after the current television deal expires. Each team would play teams within their national conference twice and outside their conference just once. The fifteenth franchise would either come from Australia (expected to be based in Melbourne at a major new stadium currently under construction) or - in the case that it was a foreign-based franchise such as Japan or the Pacific Islands - be included in the Australian conference to ensure that each conference had an equal number of teams. Further expansion in the future has also been proposed, with new franchises in the Pacific islands, Japan and Argentina all being mooted as possible franchise locations.

In January 2009, the SARU announced that a new franchise in the South Eastern Cape region would be launched in June of that year to coincide with the arrival of the British and Irish Lions in Port Elizabethmarker for one of their midweek tour matches. The SEC franchise is to be launched with the goal of a future place in Super Rugby, but no timetable for its inclusion has been set. SARU confirmed that the new franchise would not be known as the Southern Spears, which was the abortive attempt to establish a franchise in the SEC region in 2006. Eventually, the new side was revealed as the Southern Kings.

Super 15 (2011-)

On May 19, 2009, following prolonged negotiations, SANZAR unveiled its model for an expanded season to start in 2011. This model was due to be presented to current broadcast rights holder News Corporation for approval before the end of June 2009. The new structure is based around the original ARU proposal for three national conferences, whereby each side would have played the other four teams from their own country twice and all of the other teams once, before a six team finals series. However, there were two major compromises that - while somewhat complicating the model - were designed to accommodate the wishes of all three countries. Firstly, each team would only play four of the five teams in each of the other two national conferences, meaning sixteen regular season games for each team. This 'trimming' of the model would allow for a late February start (somewhat placating the ARU and NZRU who wanted a March start), a three week gap for the June test matches (favoured by the SARU) and an early August finish so as not to overlap new streamlined versions of New Zealand and South Africa's domestic competitions. Secondly, the three conference winners and the three best performed of the remaining teams would qualify for a three week finals series, with seedings deciding the match-ups. This system would be a hybrid of the conference-based qualification system favoured by the SARU and the 'top six' model favoured by the ARU and NZRU. Additionally, while the fifteenth franchise will play in the Australian conference, its location has yet to be confirmed.

On 11 November 2009, SANZAR announced Melbourne will play in the expanded Super 15 competition in 2011 after the Australian start-up franchise was given the nod ahead of South Africa's Southern Kings. The licence has been awarded to Victoria, Australiamarker , however it remains to be seen what name will be in use in the Super 15.

Despite the awarding of the 15th franchise to Victoria, there is a possibility that the Southern Kings might play in the new Super 15 competition from 2011. Harold Vester, Free State Rugby Union president, stated that the performance of the Lions and Cheetahs franchises in the 2010 Super 14 competition could determine whether one of them could be replaced by the Southern Kings as one of the five South African-based teams. In addition, officials from the Southern Kings franchise, who have government backing for their place in the Super Rugby tournament, believe the Cheetahs and Lions will once again become a one-region, single franchise.

Teams

Overview of teams
Country Team City/Area Stadium/s (Capacity)
Australia Brumbies Australian Capital TerritoryACT and Southern NSW including Canberramarker, Queanbeyanmarker, Nowramarker and Alburymarker Canberra Stadiummarker, (25,011)
Waratahs New South WalesNorthern and Central NSW including Sydneymarker, Newcastlemarker, Wollongongmarker, Tamworthmarker and Coffs Harbourmarker Sydney Football Stadiummarker, (45,500)
Reds QueenslandAll of Qld including Brisbanemarker, Gold Coast, Cairnsmarker and Rockhamptonmarker Suncorp Stadiummarker, (52,500)
Force Western AustraliaAll of WA, including Perthmarker, Mandurahmarker, Bunburymarker and Kalgoorliemarker ME Bank Stadiummarker, (20,500)
New Zealandmarker Blues Auckland, North Harbour, and Northland.(North Auckland Peninsulamarker of North Islandmarker and most of metropolitan Aucklandmarker). Eden Parkmarker, (47,500)
North Harbour Stadiummarker, (25,000)
Chiefs Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Counties-ManukauCentral and eastern North Islandmarker, including Hamiltonmarker; Southern Auckland, Taurangamarker and Rotoruamarker Waikato Stadiummarker, (25,800) Bay Park Stadium, (19,800)
Crusaders Canterbury and Tasman.North and central South Islandmarker, including Christchurchmarker, Nelsonmarker, Blenheimmarker and Timarumarker AMI Stadiummarker, (36,000)
Highlanders Otago and Southland.Southern South Islandmarker, including Dunedinmarker and Invercargillmarker Carisbrookmarker, (29,000)
Rugby Park Stadiummarker, (17,000)
Hurricanes Wellington, Taranaki, Manawatu, and Hawke's Bay.Southern and southwestern North Islandmarker, including Wellingtonmarker, Palmerston Northmarker, New Plymouthmarker and Napiermarker Westpac Stadiummarker, (34,500)
South Africa Bulls Pretoriamarker (plus East Randmarker and Limpopo Provincemarker) Loftus Versfeldmarker, (51,762)
Central Cheetahs Bloemfonteinmarker (Free Statemarker plus Northern Cape) Free State Stadiummarker, (37,076)
Lions Johannesburgmarker (plus Mpumalangamarker and North West) Coca-Cola Parkmarker, (59,611)
Sharks Durbanmarker (KwaZulu-Natal) ABSA Stadium, (55,000)
Stormers Cape Townmarker (plus northern Western Cape) Newlands Stadiummarker, (51,900)


For the 2007 season, the Southern Spears, based in Port Elizabethmarker, were originally intended to replace the lowest-finishing South African team from the 2006 competition. However, the existing South African Super 14 franchises opposed the plan, which they believed was pushed through by controversial former president of the South African Rugby Union, Brian van Rooyen. On 19 April 2006, after van Rooyen was ousted as president, SARU announced that the Spears would not enter the competition. SARU then called for an investigation into the viability of the Spears after discovering the franchise had serious financial irregularities.

In August, 2006, a High Court of South Africa ruling stated that the Spears had a valid contract with SANZAR and SARU to compete in the Super 14 and Currie Cup. However, because of the organisation's financial and administrative troubles, in November 2006 a settlement was reached. The Spears abandoned their legal case, and will continue to exist, however they now will not compete in the Super 14. Although there is no official connection, the remnants of the Spears were effectively reconstituted into the Southern Kings, who unsuccessfully applied to enter the competition in 2011, losing out to Melbourne, Australia. It is yet to be seen if they will be admitted in the future.

Past winners

Super 12

Year Final Losing semi-finalists
Winner Score Runner-up 1st losing semi-finalist 2nd losing semi-finalist
1996

Details


Blues
45 - 21

Sharks


Reds


Bulls
1997

Details


Blues
23 - 7

Brumbies


Hurricanes


Sharks
1998

Details


Crusaders
20 - 13

Blues


Sharks


Highlanders
1999

Details


Crusaders
24 - 19

Highlanders


Reds


Stormers
2000

Details


Crusaders
20 - 19

Brumbies


Highlanders


Cats
2001

Details


Brumbies
36 - 6

Sharks


Cats


Reds
2002

Details


Crusaders
31 - 13

Brumbies


Waratahs


Highlanders
2003

Details


Blues
21 - 17

Crusaders


Hurricanes


Brumbies
2004

Details


Brumbies
47 - 38

Crusaders


Stormers


Chiefs
2005

Details


Crusaders
35 - 25

Waratahs


Bulls


Hurricanes


Super 14

Year Final Losing semi-finalists
Winner Score Runner-up 1st losing semi-finalist 2nd losing semi-finalist
2006

Details


Crusaders
19 - 12

Hurricanes


Waratahs


Bulls
2007

Details


Bulls
20 - 19

Sharks


Crusaders


Blues
2008

Details


Crusaders
20 - 12

Waratahs


Sharks


Hurricanes
2009

Details


Bulls
61 - 17

Chiefs


Hurricanes


Crusaders
Crusaders scrum against the Brumbies in May 2006


Total wins
Team Wins Runner-up
Crusaders 7 2
Blues 3 1
Brumbies 2 3
Bulls 2 0
Sharks 0 3
Waratahs 0 2
Highlanders 0 1
Hurricanes 0 1
Chiefs 0 1


Wins by Country

Country Wins Runner-up
10 6
2 5
2 3


Trophies

The Super 14 trophy is sterling silver and has the competition logo on a globe which sits atop of a four-sided twisted spiral; it stands at 49 centimetres high and weighs 2.7 kilogram. Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith in Nelson, New Zealand hand made the trophy which took over two months to make; the same workshop made the gold ring in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

On February 7, a new Super 14 trophy was unveiled in Wellington, New Zealandmarker for the expanded competition. In the first Super 14 final, played at Jade Stadiummarker, in Christchurch, on May 27, 2006, the Crusaders beat the Hurricanes 19-12.

There are several other trophies contested during the competition; the Charles Anderson VC Memorial Cup between the Brumbies and Stormers, the Bob Templeton Cup between the Reds and Waratahs, and the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy between the Blues and Highlanders.

Every year the Super Rugby player of the year is awarded.

Super rugby records

Team records

  • Highest score: 96 points – Crusaders defeated Waratahs 96-19, 2002
  • Lowest score: 0 points - Reds defeated Hurricanes 11-0, 1999; Brumbies defeated Bulls 15-0, 1999; Sharks defeated Bulls 29-0, 1999; Brumbies defeated Cats 64-0, 2000; Highlanders defeated Bulls 23-0, 2005; Blues defeated Brumbies 17-0, 2006; Brumbies defeated Reds 36-0, 2007; Crusaders defeated Force 53-0, 2007; Crusaders defeated Stormers 22-0, 2008; Highlanders defeated Crusaders 6-0, 2009
  • Highest combined score: 115 points - Crusaders defeated Waratahs 96-19, 2002
  • Lowest combined score: 6 points - Highlanders defeated Crusaders 6-0, 2009
  • Highest winning margin: 89 points – Bulls defeated Reds 92-3, 2007
  • Highest score away: 60 points – Blues defeated Hurricanes 60-7, 2002
  • Most consecutive wins: 15 wins – Crusaders, 2002/03
  • Most consecutive losses: 11 losses – Bulls, 2002
  • Most tries in a match: 14 tries – Crusaders v Waratahs, 2002
  • Most tries in a season: 71 tries – Crusaders, 2005
  • Fewest tries in a season: 15 tries – Blues, 1999, 2000; Reds, 2007
  • Most wins in a season: 12 wins – Crusaders, 2008 regular season
  • Fewest wins in a season: 0 wins – Bulls, 2002 regular season
  • Least losses in a season: 0 losses - Crusaders, 2002
  • Most wins in a row at home: 21 wins – Blues 1996-1998; Crusaders 2004-2006


Individual records

Match



Career



Season



Domestic competitions

Each respective country competing in the Super 14 has a number of their own domestic leagues, which feed into Super franchises. South Africa actually used their Currie Cup teams as opposed to creating new franchises during the earlier years of the Super 12. However, the Currie Cup is now the third tier of rugby in South Africa, below Test and Super, it is played after the Super 14 season, and all clubs are aligned to a franchise, though it is mainly the big five, the Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Natal Sharks, Free State Cheetahs and Western Province which contribute the most to the Super 14 sides.

In New Zealand, the Air New Zealand Cup is the most prominent domestic tournament below the Super 14, in which all the respective Unions are also aligned with Super franchises.

In Australia, a new national club competition called the Mazda Australian Rugby Championship was launched in 2007. It was intended to bridge the gap between Super 14 and club rugby, and was similar to the Currie Cup and Air New Zealand Cup. It consisted of eight teams: Sydney Fleet, Central Coast Rays, Western Sydney Rams (from New South Wales), Ballymore Tornadoes, East Coast Aces (from Queensland), Perth Spirit (from Western Australia), Melbourne Rebels (from Victoria) and the Canberra Vikings (from ACT).

The competition began on 10 August, played in a round-robin format, with the Grand Final played on 14 October. Western Sydney were the minor premiers (i.e., finished atop the league table before the playoffs), but lost in the semifinals. Central Coast won the inaugural and ultimately only Grand Final. The ARU scrapped the competition after its inaugural season, citing larger-than-expected financial losses of A$4.7 million.

Media

The Super 14 is broadcast on Supersport in South Africa, Sky Sport in New Zealand, and on FOX Sports in Australia. The Super 14 is simulcast terrestrially on M-Net in South Africa. In 2004, the Seven Network said it had no interest in the then Super 12 competition because of poor ratings. There is also a problem with the different time zones between the three nations, which can make it difficult for fans to watch games when their team is playing away. The Super 14 is now broadcast in over 40 countries, in Spain it is broadcast by Digital+.

The Super 14 competition is featured in the Electronic Arts (EA) Rugby series. See Rugby 06,Rugby 08.

See also







Notes and references

Bibliography



External links




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