Super derby action will open all five New Zealand campaigns for the 2013 Investec Super Rugby season when it kicks off in February next year.
The draw for the 2013 Investec Super Rugby season was released by SANZAR today, confirming that the Australian Conference will open the international competition with their own derbies - Rebels v Force in Melbourne (15 February), and Brumbies v Reds in Canberra, on Saturday (16 February).
Four of the five New Zealand franchises get their 2013 campaigns under way in Round 2 starting with the Highlanders who host the 2012 Champions the Chiefs, at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday, 22 February. In the same round, new Blues Head Coach Sir John Kirwan gets his first Super Rugby campaign under way, with the Blues heading south to tackle the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.
The Crusaders have a late start to their season, with their first match in Round 3 against the Blues at the Eden Park fortress, and their first home game will be in Round 5 against the Bulls.
The draw confirms 40 Investec Super Rugby matches on New Zealand soil next year, and 21 New Zealand derbies as well as the three week break in June for the three-Test Steinlager Series against France.
New Zealand Rugby Union Chief Executive Steve Tew said the support for Investec Super Rugby in 2012 had been very encouraging with many fans getting behind their teams.
“We want to build on the positive response we saw in 2012 to Investec Super Rugby. It is without doubt the best international provincial competition in the world – with the best rugby players in the world competing.
“With all five New Zealand franchises well into the process of contracting their 2013 squads, we are looking forward to continued stiff competition from the New Zealand teams and hopefully another New Zealand claim to the Investec Super Rugby title honours,” he said.
Highlanders Home Season - 2013
Rd 2 - Highlanders v Chiefs – Friday 22 Feb 735pm at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Rd 4 - Highlanders v Cheetahs – Saturday 9 March 735pm at Rugby Park Stadium, Invercargill
Rd 5 - Highlanders v Hurricanes – Friday 15 March 735pm at Forsyth Bar Stadium (FBS), Dunedin
Rd 7 - Highlanders v Reds – Friday 29 March 735pm at FBS, Dunedin
Rd 9 - Highlanders v Brumbies – Friday 12 April 735pm at FBS, Dunedin
Rd 12 - Highlanders v Sharks – Saturday 4 May 735pm at FBS, Dunedin
Rd 16 - Highlanders v Blues – Saturday 1 June 735pm at FBS, Dunedin
Rd 18 - Highlanders v Crusaders – Saturday 29 June 735pm at FBS, Dunedin
Highlanders Away Season - 2013
Rd 3 - Highlanders Bye
Rd 6 - Chiefs v Highlanders - Friday 22 March 735pm - venue TBC
Rd 8 - Blues v Highlanders - Friday 5 April 735pm - venue TBC
Rd 10 - Crusaders v Highlanders - Saturday 20 April 735pm at AMi Stadium, Christchurch
Rd 11 - Highlanders Bye
Rd 13 - Kings v Highlanders - Saturday 11 May (1.05am NZT) Nelson Mandela Bay STadium, Port Elizabeth
Rd 14 - Bulls v Highlanders - Saturday 18 May (3.05am NZT) Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Rd 15 - Force v Highlaners - Saturday 25 May (740pm NST) NIB Stadium, Perth
Rd 17 - Australian teams only
Rd 19 - Hurricanes v Highlanders - Saturday 6 July 735pm - venue TBC
Rd 20 - Rebels v Highlanders - Friday 12 July (940pm NZT) - AMII Park, Melbourne