Super Rugby 2018 Season Preview
Friday, February 16, 2018 allblacks.com Getty Images
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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.
The countdown is on! Hands up if you are excited for the return of #SuperRugby! ??????LAW CHANGES
???: https://t.co/P4Mw6xRS51#DontMissAThing pic.twitter.com/OGDZsk6Kqt— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) February 11, 2018
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.
• 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.
• Tackler must get up before playing the ball, and they must be on their side of the tackle ‘gate’.
• 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.
South African Conference
New Zealand Conference
Highlanders (yet to be published)
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