All eyes will be on New Zealand this weekend as Super Rugby Aotearoa kicks off in what is the World’s first competitive rugby game with fans.
On Monday, NZ Premier Jacinda Arden announced that the country was at Level 1 restrictions, and crowds were allowed to gather even for sports. This came at just the right time as Super Rugby Aotearoa was beaconing.
In a newly arranged system, the five New Zealand Super Rugby teams will play each other home and away before knockouts will decide the winner after 10 weeks.
Chiefs and Highlanders will get the ball rolling at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday, before Blues host Hurricanes at Eden Park in Auckland the following day.
Among those injured and out are Nehe Milner-Skudder for the Highlanders, Stephen Perofeta for the Blues, and Jordie Barret for the Hurricanes.
While Hurricanes will be buoyed by the long-awaited debut of Beauden Barrett, Hurricanes will be welcoming back powerhouse Ardie Savea. Legendary Dan Carter will wait to make his Blues debut as he is not part of the matchday 23.
Schedule for Super Rugby Aotearoa
All times East African (GMT +3)
Saturday, June 13
10:05 am – Highlanders vs Chiefs, Forsyth Barr Stadium
Sunday, June 14
06:35 am – Blues vs Hurricanes, Eden Park,
HIGHLANDERS VS CHIEFS
Highlanders to face Chiefs
Starting XV: Ayden Johnstone, Ash Dixon (C), Siate Tokolahi, Paripari Parkinson, Josh Dickson, Shannon Frizell, Dillon Hunt, Marino Mikaele Tu’u, Aaron Smith, Josh Ioane, Jona Nareki, Patelesio Tomkinson, Rob Thompson, Sam Gilbert, Mitch Hunt.
Reserves: Liam Coltman, Daniel Lienert-Brown, Jeff Thwaites, Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Teariki Ben-Nicholas, Kayne Hammington, Teihorangi Walden, Vilimoni Koroi.
Chiefs to face Highlanders
Starting XV: Aidan Ross, Samisoni Taukei’aho, Nepo Laulala, Mitchell Brown, Tupou Vaa’I, Luke Jacobson, Lachlan Boshier, Pita Gus Sowakula, Brad Weber, Kaleb Trask, Sean Wainui, Anton Lienert-Brown, Quinn Tupaea, Shaun Stevenson, Damian McKenzie.
Reserves: Bradley Slater, Ryan Coxon, Ross Geldenhuys, Naitoa Ah Kuoi, Dylan Nel, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Aaron Cruden, Etene Nanai-Seturo.
Referee: Paul Williams
Assistant 1: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant 2: Ben O’Keeffe
TMO: James Doleman
BLUES VS HURRICANES
Blues to face Hurricanes
Starting XV: Alex Hodgman, James Parsons, Ofa Tuungagasi, Patrick Tuipulotu, Josh Goodhue, Tom Robinson, Blake Gibson, Hoskins Sotutu, Sam Nock, Otere Black, Caleb Clarke, TJ Faiane, Rieko Ioane, Mark Telea, Beauden Barrett.
Reserves: Kurt Eklund, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Marcel Renata, Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, Dalton Papalii, Finlay Christie, Harry Plummer, Matt Duffie.
Hurricanes to face Blues
Starting XV: Fraser Armstrong, Dane Coles, Tyrel Lomax, James Blackwell, Scott Scrafton, Reed Prinsep, Du’Plessis Kirifi, Gareth vans, Tj Perenara, Jackson Garden-Bachop, Ben Lam, Ngani Laumape, Vince Aso, Wes Goosen, Chase Tiatia.
Reserves: Asafo Aumua, Tevita Mafileo, Alex Fidow, Isaia Walker-Leawere, Vaea Fifita, Ardie Savea, Jamie Booth, Billy Proctor
Referee: Mike Fraser
Assistant 1: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant 2: James Doleman
TMO: Brendon Pickerill
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Author: Lewis Ssemujju
Lewis is a talkative, and budding writer with lots of bias to rugby and weirdly – SEO. He has a passion for philanthropy.