Super Rugby franchise areas

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The Super Rugby competition in rugby union, including teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, is based on a "franchise" system of teams representing substantial regions of the three participating countries. This article provides specific detail as to the areas covered by each Super Rugby team.


5 super rugby franchises of Australia and their colours
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Traditionally, Australia has not had a continent-wide rugby competition, but structured the game around regional club competitions. The five Australian Super Rugby franchises have evolved from traditional state and territory representative sides. The rugby power-bases of New South Wales, Queensland and Australian Capital Territory are joined by Australian rules football strongholds Victoria and Western Australia as the franchise locations:

Conference Club Location Feeder Area(s) Home Ground(s) First season Championships
Queensland Reds Brisbane Queensland

(Queensland Premier Rugby)

Ballymore Stadium (traditional home), Suncorp Stadium 1996 1 (2011)
1 Super 6 (1992), 2 Super 10 (1994, 1995)
2 Australian Conference (2011, 2012)
New South Wales Waratahs Sydney Central and Northern New South Wales

(Shute Shield)

Sydney Football Stadium, Stadium Australia 1996 1(2014)
1 Australian Conference (2014)
Brumbies Canberra ACT and Southern NSW

(ACTRU Premier Division)

Canberra Stadium 1996 2 (2001, 2004)
1 Australian Conference (2013)
Western Force Perth Western Australia

(RugbyWA Premier Grade)

Perth Oval 2006 0
Melbourne Rebels Melbourne Victoria

(Dewar Shield)

Melbourne Rectangular Stadium 2011 0

This leaves three states and territories which do not have a franchise:

  • South Australia — a substantial market with Australian rules football as the main sport, although the Adelaide Sevens attract a sustainable amount of interest. The South Australian Rugby Union does have an arrangement with the Melbourne Rebels for its players to be eligible for that franchise's academy team.
  • Tasmania — a small market and not geographically concentrated. Australian rules football is the main football code. Melbourne Rebels could be extended, in the future, into Tasmania.
  • Northern Territory — Australia's least populous state or territory, with no other major league sporting teams based in it.

Queensland Reds versus NSW Waratahs is the oldest and most fierce rivalry. ACT Brumbies also have the Waratahs as their main rival. The Force and Rebels are a new rivalry according to Stuart Fazakerley – earlier the teams were also rivals for a Super Rugby franchise, which was given to the Force, in 2004.[1]

New Zealand[edit]

The 5 Super 14 teams in New Zealand.
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Map of all provincial unions within New Zealand.

In New Zealand, each of the country's five Super Rugby teams are linked with several unions in the country's two domestic competitions, the professional ITM Cup and amateur Heartland Championship. For all practical purposes, all Super Rugby players will be drawn from the ITM Cup sides. The specific unions linked to each franchise are:

Conference Club Location Feeder Area(s)
(NPC Provinces)
Home Ground(s) First season Championships
New Zealand
Blues Auckland ITM Cup Provinces: 1996 3 (1996, 1997, 2003)
Chiefs Hamilton ITM Cup Provinces:

Heartland Championship Provinces:

1996 2 (2012, 2013)
2 New Zealand Conference (2012, 2013)
Crusaders Christchurch ITM Cup Provinces:

Heartland Championship Provinces:

1996 7 (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006 2008)
2 New Zealand Conference (2011, 2014)
Highlanders Dunedin ITM Cup Provinces:

Heartland Championship Provinces:

1996 0
Hurricanes Wellington ITM Cup Provinces:

Heartland Championship Provinces:

1996 0

South Africa[edit]

the super rugby franchises in South Africa including the southern kings catchment.
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Map of provincial teams and their unions within South Africa.

South Africa operates its Super Rugby system in basically the same manner as in New Zealand, with each franchise linked with one or more unions in the country's domestic competition, the Currie Cup. During the 1996 and 1997 Super 12 seasons, South Africa entered their 4 top finishers in the previous season's Currie Cup. The franchises were created for the 1998 season.

The country currently has five franchises. The four teams from the Super 12 era—the Bulls, Cats (now the Lions), Sharks and Stormers—were joined in 2006 by the Central Cheetahs. Their identities are largely based around the 5 traditional powers of the Currie Cup competition; the Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Natal Sharks, Western Province and Free State Cheetahs respectively.

The unions linked to each franchise are:

Conference Franchise Location Feeder Area(s) Home Ground(s) First season Championships
South Africa
Bulls Pretoria Blue Bulls (Pretoria and Limpopo Province)

Falcons (East Rand)

Loftus Versfeld Stadium 1996 3 (2007, 2009, 2010)
1 South African Conference (2013)
Central Cheetahs Bloemfontein Free State Cheetahs (central and western Free State)
Griffons (northern Free State)
Griquas (Northern Cape)
Free State Stadium, Hoffe Park Stadium 2006 0
Lions Johannesburg Golden Lions (Johannesburg)
Leopards (North West)
Pumas (Mpumalanga)
Coca-Cola Park 1996 (like Cats) 1 Super 10 (1993)
Sharks Durban Natal Sharks (KwaZulu-Natal) Kings Park Stadium 1996 1 South African Conference (2014)
Stormers Cape Town Boland Cavaliers (northern Western Cape)
Western Province (Cape Town metro area)
Newlands Stadium 1996 2 South African Conference (2011, 2012)
Southern Kings Port Elizabeth Border Bulldogs (eastern Eastern Cape)
Eagles (Western Cape east of Cape Town)
Eastern Province Kings (western Eastern Cape)
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium 2013 0

Southern and Eastern Cape Region Franchise[edit]

The proposed sixth team were supposed to be entrenched in the 2007 and 2008 Super 14 seasons and were to draw from the Southern and Eastern Cape Region (SEC) and based in Port Elizabeth. They became a major bone of contention in South African rugby, when it was proposed originally, that the entry of the Spears would mean a promotion/relegation system would be put in place in 2006 to determine which team would not participate in the following season's Super 14. The entrenchment of the Spears proved highly controversial; after allegations of financial mismanagement and poor results against other South African sides, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) decided on 19 April 2006 to scrap its original plan to admit the Spears in 2007.

The High Court of South Africa gave the Spears a potential reprieve in August 2006 when it ruled that the Spears had a valid contract with SARU and its commercial arm, SA Rugby, to enter both the Currie Cup and Super 14. Both the SARU and SA Rugby planned to appeal this decision. In November 2006, all parties involved reached a settlement; the Spears dropped their suit and abandoned any attempts to enter the Super 14.[2]

Since the Spears never joined Super Rugby, the SARU and SA Rugby had to determine how to reincorporate players from the Spears region to the other franchises. In January 2009, the SARU announced that a new SEC franchise, also to be based in Port Elizabeth, would be launched in June 2009 to coincide with the arrival of the British and Irish Lions for a midweek tour match in the city. The franchise, a joint venture between the Eastern Province and Border unions, was created with the goal of an eventual place in Super Rugby, though no entry date has been mooted. SARU also confirmed that the franchise would not assume the Southern Spears name;[3] the team was later announced as the Southern Kings. The Southern Kings are now confirmed to be drawing from the Spears' former area. Most of the players in the Kings' debut match against the British and Irish Lions are affiliated with the team's co-owners, the Border and Eastern Province unions (the latter being the operators of the Eastern Province Kings), but South Western Districts (operators of the Eagles) are also involved. The Kings are apparently cooperating on some level with the Stormers, since the inaugural Kings side has players from both Western Province and Boland.

On 27 January 2012, it was confirmed that the Southern Kings would join Super Rugby in 2013.[4] It was confirmed that they would replace the Lions as South Africa's fifth club.

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ With a Rebel yell, a new rivalry born - The Roar, Stuart Fazakerley, April 5, 2011
  2. ^ "Spears abandon their Super conquest". 2006-11-16. Retrieved 2006-11-22. 
  3. ^ "Launch date set for SE Cape team" (Press release). South African Rugby Union. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  4. ^ "Southern Kings confirmed in Vodacom Super Rugby". 2012-01-27. Retrieved 2012-01-27. 

See also[edit]

External links[edit]