Super Rugby

Steve Hansen says New Zealand Rugby owes Australia nothing as Super Rugby debate heats up

In an interview with Stuff, Hansen said New Zealand owed Australia nothing in a week where tensions have escalated between the two nations following the revelations of findings from the Aratipu review into the future of Super Rugby.

The review has been undertaken to find ways to improve and re-shape the competition in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with one suggestion being an increase in Kiwi teams and a reduction of Australian sides in a trans-Tasman tournament.

O'Connor kicks Reds to win as rugby returns in Oz

The Wallabies utility back struck in the 76th minute, giving the Reds victory after 11 successive defeats by their southern rivals and leaving home fans happy at the end of a scrappy display from both teams.

The first match of Australia's domestic "Super Rugby AU" brought a modest crowd to Lang Park, with groups of fans spaced apart in the terraces to maintain social distancing.

They saw a willing, if error-strewn contest, as players struggled to shake off the rust from a long break following the suspension of the wider Super Rugby competition in March.

Chiefs get their Chief back

Coach Warren Gatland has made several changes to the Chiefs forward pack with Cane, lock Mitchell Brown and hooker Bradley Slater coming into the starting 15.

Samisoni Taukei'aho shifts to the bench with Brown returning from a neck injury to combine with Naitoa Ah Kuoi in the second row.

Lachlan Boshier shifts back to the blindside, with Cane returning on the openside.

Halfback Brad Weber will run out for his 80th game for the Chiefs jersey and will be joined by a near unchanged backline.

Kurtley Beale departs Waratahs with immediate effect

It was announced in May that Beale would not be returning to Daceyville in 2021 and following the COVID-19 shutdown it’s been agreed that he take up that opportunity with immediate effect.

In his eleventh season for his home state, Beale has been an icon of the organisation’s famous sky-blue jersey – equalling Benn Robinson’s all-time appearance record (148) in his final outing as a Waratah.

Celebrations as fans return to professional sport

Fans cheered as the New Zealand Air Force made a low pass over Eden Park on Sunday, just moments before kickoff between the Blues and Hurricanes in round one of Super Rugby Aotearoa.

On the ground, a simple message standing between the two teams. Thank you Aotearoa.

A message reiterated by All Blacks first five, and Blues debutant, Beauden Barrett after the match.

"It was about rugby being back and everyone coming to support this team, and also the Hurricanes.

Blues defeat Hurricanes 30-20 in front of huge home crowd

Two-time world player of the year, Beauden Barrett, missed out on the No.10 jersey in his first game for the Blues, instead making his debut at fullback against his former side on Sunday.

Otere Black retained the first five-eighth spot after impressing MacDonald earlier in the season, and landed six from six with the boot as well as directing the Blues back line with clarity and control.

Gatland kicks Highlanders to win over Chiefs

Super Rugby Aotearoa is the first professional rugby competition in the world to have fans return en-masse in the Covid-19 era.

Bryn Gatland gave the home supporters plenty to cheer about with his match-winning last-minute drop kick. The Highlanders had led 22 to 16 at halftime but the Chiefs - coached by Gatland's father, Warren - fought back to take the lead 27-25 with just three minutes remaining.

However, Bryn Gatland snatched the win with a 40m drop goal and just 60 seconds left on the clock.

Blues-Canes match draws sell-out crowd

New Zealand's government lifted virtually all COVID-19 restrictions earlier this week, allowing a 10-week competition for the country's five Super Rugby teams to begin this weekend without any limits on crowd sizes.

The Blues said that by 12 noon on Saturday they had sold 43,000 tickets, the capacity set for the match, and there would be no gate sales on matchday.

Eden Park can usually seat up to about 50,000.

"It was only a few weeks ago that we were planning for a competition behind closed doors," Blues chief executive Andrew Hore said in a statement on Saturday.

Red card replacements and golden point

The five team New Zealand competition will also allow players to be replaced after they're shown a red card.

While the new red card rules will allow a team to replace a player who has been sent off, they won't be able to do so for 20 minutes.

The golden point system will work along the same lines as the National Rugby League's.

If the scores are level after 80 minutes of play the first team to score during a 10-minute period of extra time will win.

Dan Carter to play for Blues

Sources have confirmed to RNZ that the former Crusaders star will join the Blues for the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition, which kicks off on Saturday week.

The 38-year-old's signing is expected to be announced at a media session in Auckland at midday.

The Blues coach Leon MacDonald messaged the team on Wednesday to tell them Carter was joining the side as injury cover for Stephen Perofeta.

"His motive is to give back to NZ Rugby by sharing his experience/knowledge with us.

"Great opportunity to learn from one of the games' greats," Macdonald wrote.