Super Rugby is a men's professional rugby union club competition involving teams from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. It previously included teams from Argentina, Japan, and South Africa. Building on various Southern Hemisphere competitions dating back to the South Pacific Championship in 1986, with teams from a number of southern nations, the Super Rugby started as the Super 12 in the 1996 season with 12 teams from 3 countries: Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. The Super 12 was established by SANZAR after the sport became professional in 1995. At its peak the tournament featured the top players from nations representing 16 of the 24 top-three finishes in the history of the Rugby World Cup. After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the competition to split into three, the reformed competition in 2021 and beyond will only include Oceanian clubs representing Australia, New Zealand and from the Pacific islands (specifically a Fijian team, and a New Zealand-based Pacifika side representing Samoan, Tongan and other Pacific communities).
|Current season, competition or edition:|
2022 Super Rugby Pacific season
|Formerly||Super 12 (1996–2005)|
Super 14 (2006–2010)
|No. of teams||12|
|Country||Australia (5 teams)|
Fiji (1 team)
New Zealand (5 teams)
Pacific Islands (1 team)
South Africa (8 teams)
Argentina (1 team)
Japan (1 team)
(2022, 11th title)
|Most titles||Crusaders (11 titles)|
|TV partner(s)||Australia, Fiji and New Zealand: |
Fijian Broadcasting Corporation
Sky Sport (Prime)
Stan Sport (Nine Network)
|Super W |
Super Rugby Aupiki
COVID-19 Regional Competitions:
Super Rugby Aotearoa
Super Rugby AU
Super Rugby Trans-Tasman
Super Rugby Unlocked
The name was changed to Super 14 with the addition of two teams for the 2006 season, and with expansion to 15 teams in the three countries for the 2011 season, the competition was rebranded as Super Rugby (with no number). In 2016 two new teams, the Jaguares from Argentina and Sunwolves from Japan, joined the competition, playing in two newly separated African groups.
In 2018, the competition underwent another change in format, this time dropping two teams (the Cheetahs and Kings) from the South African conference, and one (Western Force) from the Australian conference. This left the competition with 15 teams.
The Sunwolves left the competition for financial reasons before the conclusion of the 2020 season. The 2020 Super Rugby season was subsequently cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this led to a mass-scale restructuring of the competition. Due to international travel restrictions relating to the pandemic, the competition was unable to resume in its multinational format, prompting Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby to launch domestic tournaments, Super Rugby AU and Super Rugby Aotearoa respectively. Both these tournaments will continue in 2021, to be followed by Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, a crossover tournament.
In September 2020, the South African Rugby Union announced the withdrawal of their four Super Rugby franchises from the competition, with plans for them to join an expanded PRO14 (which would become the United Rugby Championship). The Argentinian Jaguares are not set to compete in any Super Rugby tournaments in 2021, and their future is in doubt, and it is highly likely that they will be disbanded.
The long-term future of Super Rugby in 2022 and beyond was confirmed in August 2021, with a 12-team format confirmed. The competition sees the addition of a Fijian side and a team representing the Pacific Islands, and will return to a format similar to what was played pre-COVID-19 pandemic. The tournament for 2022 and 2023 will be named Super Rugby Pacific.
The competition has been dominated by New Zealand teams, who have won 18 times in 26 years. The Crusaders have won most often, with 11 titles.