The Super Rugby league is the southern hemisphere equivalent of the Champions Cup in Europe and is regarded as the toughest competition in rugby union.
The Super Rugby series runs from February to July every year, (apart from 2020, due to the Corona Virus pandemic). Every year the top teams from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa face off, building up to an early July final.
Super Rugby started in 1996 and replaced the South Pacific Championship which was run since 1986. It was orininally known as the Super 12 in with 12 teams from 3 nations: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
The name was changed to Super 14 with the addition of two teams for the 2006 season, it was then rebranded as Super Rugby (with no number) with the expansion to 15 teams in 2011. In 2016 two new teams, the Jaguares from Argentina and Sunwolves from Japan, joined the competition. The Sunwolves left the competition in 2019 for financial reasons.
The current 15 teams in Super Rugby are:
The most successful teams:
1. The Crusaders
The legendary Crusaders are the most successful rugby club in New Zealand and by far the most successful SuperRugby team. In July 2019 they became the only team in the South to have won the Super Rugby 3 Consecutive times. Formed in 1996 they have now won 10 Super Rugby titles and making a total of 14 Super Rugby Finals. Lot’s of the All Blacks greats – Dan Carter, Richie Mo’unga, Kieran Reed, Richie McCaw, Sonny Bill Williams and a good chuck of the Current All Blacks team played for the Crusaders.
Formerly known the Canterbury Crusaders, the BNZ Crusaders (due to sponsorship) are based in Christchurch New Zealand.
The Brumbies is an Australian team based in Canberra, Australia. They were formed in 1996 to provide a third Australian franchise for the newly formed Super 12. The Brumbies have made 6 Super Rugby finals between 1997 and 2013, winning the competition twice in 2001 and 2004.
3. The Blues
The Blues are another New Zealand team based in Auckland. Like all of New Zealand’s four other Super Rugby teams, the Blues were established by the NZRU in 1996. The Blues won the competition in its first two seasons, 1996 and 1997, and again in 2003. Additionally, the team were finalists in 1998 and semi-finalists in 2007 and 2011.
4. The Bulls
The Bulls, based in Pretoria, are one of 4 South African teams in the Super Rugby series, they have won the tournament 3 times in 2007, 2009 and 2010.
This New Zealand team is know known as the Gallagher Chiefs (previously Waikato Chiefs). They have won the Super 12’s twice, in 2012 and 2013. They lost the final in 2009.
Another one of the five New Zealand Super 12 teams, the Hurricanes are based in Wellington. They were crowned Super Rugby champions once in 2016 and also made the final in 2006 and 2015.
The New South Wales Waratahs are one of 4 Australian teams, the equal the Hurricanes record of 1 win in 2014 and made the finals 2 other times in 2004 and 2008.
8. The Highlanders
Formerly the Otago Highlanders, the team are based in Dunedin and were formed in 1996. They won Super Rugby league once in 2015, also making the final in 1999.
Now known as the Cell C Sharks for sponsorship reasons, they are one of the most followed rugby clubs on social media. The Sharks play in the Super Rugby League but have never won any of the Super Rugby competitions but they are still one of the top teams, reaching the final four times, in 1996, 2001, 2007 and 2012.
Based in Johannesburg, they were previously known as the Cats between the 1998 and 2006 seasons. They had varied results in the competition, finishing at the bottom of the table six times, but reaching the semifinal stage five times. They reached their first final in 2016 and following it up in 2017 and 2018, they still haven’t one the competition but their form of late suggests a Super Rugby title is within reach.