The Gallagher Chiefs fixtures in Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa 2021 have been confirmed with New Zealand Rugby (NZR) announcing the draw today. The competition will include 10 weeks of derby matches to kick off on 26 February next year and finish with a winner-takes-all Final for the Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa trophy.
The Gallagher Chiefs will have the opening round bye before hosting the Highlanders at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on Friday, 5 March for their first home match of 2021. All Gallagher Chiefs home matches for the competition will be played at FMG Stadium Waikato.
The second edition of Super Rugby Aotearoa will kick off at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Friday, 26 February where the Highlanders will host the defending champion Crusaders, with the Hurricanes and Blues rounding off Round 1 at Sky Stadium the following day.
All 21 Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa matches including a Final on Saturday, 8 May, will be live and exclusive via new competition naming rights sponsor Sky TV.
Chiefs Rugby Club CEO Michael Collins is keen to launch into the 2021 season.
“We’re keen to launch into 2021 to re-connect personally with our members, sponsors and Gallagher Chiefs whānau. Our first game at home is expected to be big one since we had two very close matches against the Highlanders this year and our team had a big win over the Crusaders in the first home match of 2020.
“We’re sure our loyal supporters will welcome having our All Blacks available for our first match including the newly appointed All Blacks’ captain Sam Cane. We expect to hear from a lot of returning and new members next week as our re-vamped 2021 Membership offering will be on sale from Monday.”
The Gallagher Chiefs had a strong start to 2020 by defeating the Blues at Eden Park in the first round, followed by the Crusaders at FMG Stadium Waikato the week after.
NZR General Manager Professional Rugby & Performance Chris Lendrum said the 2021 season would build on the excitement generated by the first edition of Super Rugby Aotearoa.
“We saw how exciting this home and away format was last year, and all five teams now know what’s required to compete and win every week. With the availability of the All Blacks locked in for round one there are going to be fireworks from the opening whistle.
“It’s fantastic to have some certainty for fans, players and partners after what’s been a year of uncertainty. Confirming the 2021 draw is a significant milestone and a positive step for rugby in New Zealand and we’re thrilled to have our broadcast partner Sky TV come on board as naming rights sponsor.”
Lendrum also confirmed NZR is working closely with Rugby Australia on a trans-Tasman cross over series and would announce details shortly.
Each team will have four home matches and two byes with the Final between the top two qualifying teams scheduled for Saturday, 8 May.
“We’ve listened to the fans and our players and added a Final, which we think will provide a fitting climax to the competition,” Lendrum said.
NZR Head of High Performance Mike Anthony confirmed the All Blacks would be available from Round 1.
“The later start date for Sky Sport Super Rugby Aotearoa means our players will be ready to go on the start line, which is a good result for everyone.”
Sky Chief Executive Martin Stewart said Sky was delighted to support the tournament as naming rights sponsor, and looked forward to delivering a superb tournament to rugby fans in 2021.
“Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa is a world class competition featuring many of the best players in the world and our coverage and analysis needs to mirror this action on the field. We’ll be looking to take fans even closer to the action in every aspect in 2021 and we can’t wait for the first match.”
Sky Super Rugby Aotearoa fact sheet:
- There will be 20 round robin matches with each team playing each other twice on a home and away basis.
- The 2021 season will include the addition of a 1 v 2 Final to decide the champion.
- The Super Rugby Aotearoa trophy is called Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa (Stand As One New Zealand) and was created by Wellington carver Bill Doyle.
2021 Gallagher Chiefs Memberships are on sale from Monday 16th November. Visit chiefs.co.nz for more info.