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Super Rugby 2018 Season Preview

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Friday, February 16, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

The action starts in Cape Town on Sunday morning (NZT) where the Stormers host the Jaguares before last year’s finalists the Lions host the Sharks in Johannesburg. 

Those are the only two fixtures in round one before all three conferences join the fray in round two.

QUICK TAP: NINE NEW CAPS IN HURRICANES FOR SOUTH AFRICA TOUR

Fans will notice plenty of changes to Super Rugby in 2018 with the competition trimmed from 18 teams to 15 and the conferences reduced from four to three. This means that teams will now play 16 regular season matches, including eight home and away games against the other four teams in the their conference. The remaining eight games will be played against teams from the other two conferences.

The winner of each conference will have home advantage for the quarterfinals. They will be joined by the team that has the highest number of points but is not a conference winner. Seeds five to eight will be wildcards determined by their final points tally at the end of the season.

In 2017, the Crusaders beat the Lions 25-17 in the final to pick up their eighth Super Rugby title and are once again one of the favourites to lift the silverware in 2018.

They will have plenty of competition in the ultra-tough New Zealand conference with the Highlanders and Hurricanes both putting out settled squads, the Blues showing great form in the preseason and the Chiefs always strong.
LAW CHANGES
The 2018 Super Rugby season will follow the latest World Rugby Law Amendments. The changes will affect the scrum, tackle area and ruck, and are designed to make the game easier to play and referee, and protect the players more.

SCRUM
• The scrum-half must put the ball in straight but is allowed to align their shoulder with the middle line of the scrum. Therefore they are allowed to stand a shoulder width towards their own side of the middle line.
• Once the ball touches the ground in the scrum, any front-row player can use either foot to strike it back. One player from the feeding side must strike the ball, otherwise a free-kick will be the result.
• The No 8 is allowed to pick the ball up when at the feet of the second row. This will likely allow teams under pressure in the scrum to get the ball out quickly.

TACKLE AREA
• Tackler must get up before playing the ball, and they must be on their side of the tackle ‘gate’.

RUCK

• A ruck commences when at least one player is on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground (tackled player, tackler). At this point the offside lines are created.
• A player cannot kick the ball out of a ruck, they can only kick it in a backwards motion.

TEAM PREVIEWS


South African Conference
Stormers
Lions
Jaguares
Bulls
Sharks

Australian Conference
Sunwolves
Brumbies
Reds
Waratahs
Rebels

New Zealand Conference
Blues
Hurricanes
Crusaders
Highlanders (yet to be published)
Chiefs (yet to be published)

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL 2018 INVESTEC SUPER RUGBY DRAW

SUPER RUGBY WINNERS
2017: Crusaders
2016: Hurricanes
2015: Highlanders
2014: Waratahs
2013: Chiefs
2012: Chiefs
2011: Reds
2010: Bulls
2009: Bulls
2008: Crusaders
2007: Bulls
2006: Crusaders
2005: Crusaders
2004: Brumbies
2003: Blues
2002: Crusaders
2001: Brumbies
2000: Crusaders
1999: Crusaders
1998: Crusaders
1997: Blues
1996: Blues