January 29, 2020 / 8:21 AM / 22 days ago

Factbox - Super Rugby at a glance

(Reuters) - Factbox on the 2020 Super Rugby competition, which starts on Friday:

KEY FACTS

** The 25th season of Super Rugby features teams fromArgentina, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa.

** Season will run straight through from Jan. 31 to June 20 with no break as the test window has been moved back to July.

** Remains a 15-team competition with the same conferencestructure for the third year in a row after the unsuccessfulexperiment with 18 teams.

** The Japan-based Sunwolves will depart at the end of their fifth season for financial reasons, leaving the competition to revert to 14 teams in a new format for 2021.

CONFERENCES

** New Zealand Conference: Otago Highlanders, WellingtonHurricanes, Canterbury Crusaders, Waikato Chiefs, AucklandBlues.

** Australia Conference: New South Wales Waratahs, ACTBrumbies, Melbourne Rebels, Queensland Reds, Sunwolves (Japan)

** South African Conference: Bulls, Stormers, Lions, Sharks,Jaguares (Argentina)

FORMAT

** Each team plays 16 matches. They face their conference rivals home and away and will take on four of the five teams in the other two regional pools.

** Each team has two bye weeks.

** Teams earn four points for a win and two for a draw. Bonuspoints are awarded for finishing three or more tries ahead of their opponents, or for losing by fewer than seven points.

** The three conference winners automatically qualify for theplayoffs along with the next five highest-ranked teams on anoverall table.

** The highest-ranked winners of the quarter-finals host thesemi-finals.

HISTORY

* The competition started as the Super 12 in 1996, a yearafter rugby union became professional, and was expanded to 14teams from 2006 and 15 in 2011 after the Melbourne Rebels wereadded.

* Expanded in 2016 to include a sixth South Africanside and teams from Argentina and Japan but reduced to 15 againfor last season after crowds and television audiences dwindled.

* New Zealand teams have dominated the competition, winning17 of the 24 titles. The Canterbury Crusaders are the mostsuccessful with 10 titles, including the last three. All fiveNew Zealand sides have lifted the Super Rugby trophy.

* South Africa’s Bulls are the only South African champions,having won the title in 2007, 2009, 2010.

* Australia’s ACT Brumbies have won the title twice (2001,2004) while the Queensland Reds (2011) and New South WalesWaratahs (2014) have both won it once each.

Compiled by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford

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