The domestic rugby season in South Africa will burst back into life with seven weeks of high-calibre local rugby as Super Rugby returns – Unlocked, SA Rugby has confirmed.
The competition went into lockdown with the rest of South Africa at the end of March but returns with three added teams and a chase to a unique finale in November.
The four, existing Super Rugby teams – Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers – have been joined by the Cheetahs, Pumas and Griquas, to compete in a 21 match competition.
The season will resume at 19h00 (SA Time) on Friday, 9 October when the Sharks take on the Lions in Durban while the following day the Cheetahs and Bulls will host the Pumas (at 16h30), and Tafel Lager Griquas (19h00) respectively.
The Stormers have a bye in the opening round, but they will host the Emirates Lions the following week, when the men from Johannesburg will face the Capetonians at Newlands on Saturday 17 October at 19h00.
“We’d like to thank all our stakeholders in getting to this point,” said Jurie Roux, SA Rugby CEO.
“It has been an extremely trying time but thanks to Vodacom, SuperSport and the seven teams involved we are able to resume rugby with a really exciting series of matches featuring the best players in the country.
“We have had to make some major format changes and look at creative ways to look after everyone’s needs but we think between now and the end of the season – which will only be in January next year – we will provide rugby and entertainment to excite the fans once more.”
Michelle van Eyden, Executive Head of Sponsorships, said: “The success of Vodacom Super Fan Saturday and the energy and passion of the players and fans was a fantastic way to celebrate the restart of rugby, and to get South Africans connected again around their shared passion for the game.
“There is now a palpable excitement brimming over about the coming season of Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked.
“The players are itching to go. The fans are ready to get behind their teams. Vodacom is grateful to join all of our rugby partners in what is going to be an unlocking of the real heart and spirit of South African rugby on our fields. This is going to be a true festival and showcase of South African rugby’s current and future stars,” she added.
Super Rugby Unlocked concludes on the weekend of 20/21 November, with matches in Pretoria (Bulls v Phakisa Pumas – Friday 20 November at 19h00), Bloemfontein (Cheetahs v Lager Griquas – Saturday 21 November at 16h30) and Durban (Sharks v Stormers – Saturday 21 November at 19h00).
The team at the top of the standings at this stage of the season, will be crowned Super Rugby Unlocked champions, after which all log points will be transferred to the Currie Cup (fixtures to be announced in due course).
For all the Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked fixtures, click here.