Super Rugby

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett signs four-year deal with the Blues

Barrett, the 73-test All Black first five-eighths, is ending an eight-year association with the Hurricanes to join the Blues as part of a new four-year deal with New Zealand Rugby that will take him through till the 2023 World Cup.

Blues chief executive Michael Redman said the signing coup had been "years in the making" and was the most important player change the competition had ever seen.

Perenara to become most capped Hurricane; Taufua chalks up century

Perenara will make his 127th appearance, eight seasons after he made his debut against the Stormers in Cape Town surpassing former teamates Ma'a Nonu and Conrad Smith.

Hurricanes coach John Plumtree has made just one change to the starting lineup which beat the Bulls in the quarter finals with Salesi Rayasi replacing the injured s Wes Goosen on the wing.

The bench features the return of utility forward Vaea Fifita from suspension while James Marshall has recovered from an elbow injury which ruled him out of the quarter-final.

Cooper steps down as Chiefs coach

Cooper has coached the Chiefs for the past two years taking to the quarterfinals in 2018 and 2019 and was due to lead the side in 2020 but has cited the lack of hands on coaching as having played a part in his decision.

"The role of the head coach has evolved so much over the past five or six years," he said.

"My passion is 'hands-on' on-the-field coaching, but with bigger playing numbers and more staff involved these days, I am getting taken further and further away from my passion."

Cooper said he would now take a break to consider his future.

Mo'unga shines as Crusaders storm home

With a breathtaking blend of defensive grunt and attacking inspiration, the double defending champions kept their perfect home record in playoffs intact and extended their unbeaten winning streak at Rugby League Park to 29 matches.

They will return to the venue to meet the winner of the Hurricanes and the Bulls, who play their quarter-final on Saturday.

"We knew it was going to be tough, quarter-finals are always tough," Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock said.

Ben Smith returns for Highlanders

Smith will start at fullback after recovering from a hamstring strain which has kept him out for seven weeks.

He was expected to return last week against the Waratahs, but the Highlanders decided to give him extra time to recover.

The co-captain is one of just three changes to the Highlanders lineup with Sio Tomkinson replacing Tevita Li on the left wing.

Cane says Chiefs wanted to prove critics wrong

Colin Cooper's side dug themselves out of a 0-4 hole at the start of the season and overcame the loss of key players to injury to book themselves a quarter-final against Argentina's Jaguares in Buenos Aires.

Cane said the New Zealanders had been written off at various stages during the season but managed to rally each time to stay in touch.

"There's been numerous times throughout the year when it was like 'the Chiefs are out of it', or 'they're pretty much done', or 'they're a slim mathematical hope'," he said.

Brumbies hailed for wearing lavalavas to celebrate Pasifika culture

Captain Christian Lealiifano and his Brumbies buddies got off the team bus, clad in blue cloth skirts of a style traditionally worn by Polynesian people.

The sign of respect has been hailed in the Pasifika rugby community, with American Samoa-born former All Black Jerome Kaino, taking to Twitter from France to say: "Love this", followed by a burst of emoji applause.

New Zealand-born former Samoa test player Fosi Pala'amo also tweeted his congratulations from Ireland.

Brumbies ready to fly Australian flag in Super Rugby finals

The Brumbies are the only Australian team through to the Super Rugby finals despite a more competitive showing across the Australian conference this season.

Winning the Australian conference secured them a home quarter-final, to be played next Saturday against the Sharks, who won their final match in the 81st minute on Sunday morning.

McKellar said there was a feeling that the Brumbies had an opportunity to generate some optimism around rugby in the playoffs.

“I do think there's a sense that we're representing the country,” he said.

Super Rugby: Sonny Bill Williams to start, Ma'a Nonu off bench in Blues' finale

For Williams, though, the stakes are a little bit higher as the 33-year-old, who has missed almost the entire back half of the season after requiring surgery to his knee, seeks to prove his fitness ahead of the international campaign, and a tilt at a third straight World Cup with the All Blacks.

Waratahs to rest test stars despite slim chance of making Super Rugby finals

Rugby Australia avoided a nightmare scenario of having to decide whether to enforce its new Wallabies resting policy at the likely expense of NSW playing finals, after the Waratahs' season was all but ended by the Brumbies last week.

It means Michael Hooper, Rob Simmons, Sekope Kepu, Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale will all likely miss the match on Friday.

NSW can still make finals but they need a bonus-point victory and several results to fall their way.

Waratahs assistant coach Steve Tandy confirmed players would be rested and backed the next wave to step up.