Revealed: Rugby Australia announce 2021 Super Rugby AU draw

Super Rugby - AU
by Christy Doran

The Queensland Reds will host the NSW Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium to open the Super Rugby AU 2021 season on Friday, 19 February, Rugby Australia confirmed on Wednesday.

Inaugural champions the Brumbies will then take on the Western Force immediately after the season's opener to complete the opening round of the competition.

Following the opening Friday night doubleheader, Super Rugby AU will return to the same format of 2020 which sees one Friday night and one Saturday night match played each each weekend.

The minor-premiership winner will host the final on May 8, with second place to once again host third in the qualifying final a week earlier on May 1.

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All 22 matches in the tournament will be live and on demand, ad-free, through Stan’s new streaming sport package which will launch in 2021.

“What a way to start 2021 and our new partnership with Stan and Nine," Rugby Australia interim CEO Rob Clarke said on Wednesday.

"Our players are raring to go and are really keen put on a show for fans, with Super Rugby AU to light up living rooms right around the country.

“Super Rugby AU was terrific in 2020 and will get better next year as this next crop of Australian Rugby stars continue to develop, and they are complimented by some genuinely talented international players who have since arrived on our shores.

“The 2021 season promises to be a great one for Australians fans with every game in primetime and with the added support of our new partners, Stan and Nine."

Rugby Australia also confirmed that they are working with New Zealand Rugby on a trans-Tasman competition which is set to follow the respective domestic competitions.

New Zealand Rugby announced their Super Rugby Aotearoa competition on Tuesday night, with the Highlanders to host the Crusaders in the opening match. 

The competition will kick-start one week later than Super Rugby AU, but the respective tournaments will finish on the same weekend with Super Rugby Aotearoa having a straight-up final between the top two teams.

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Meanwhile, the Force continued their Spring signing spree on Tuesday night by announcing that Junior Wallabies halfback Michael McDonald was returning to the franchise.

The Irish-born No.9 said he was thrilled to be returning to the Perth-based club and was looking forward to playing alongside Leinster great Rob Kearney.

“It means the world to me to be back in Perth and with the Force," McDonald said in a statement.

"I absolutely love the place, so to be given the opportunity to pull the Force jersey on again is amazing.

“I’m very passionate about this club. I grew up supporting and watching the Western Force since moving to Australia from Ireland when I was 13.

“It’s a dream come true to potentially line-up for the club alongside Rob Kearney. As a kid I watched him play for Ireland and Leinster for years. I’m really looking forward to learning as much as I can from him."

2021 SUPER RUGBY DRAW

Round 1

Queensland Reds v NSW Waratahs, Friday 19 February, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Western Force v Brumbies, Friday 19 February, HBF Park, Perth

Round 2
Queensland Reds v Melbourne Rebels, Friday 26 February, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Brumbies v NSW Waratahs, Saturday 27 February, GIO Stadium, Canberra

Round 3
NSW Waratahs v Western Force, Friday 5 March, Venue TBC
Melbourne Rebels v Brumbies, Saturday 6 March, AAMI Park, Melbourne

Round 4
Western Force v Melbourne Rebels, Friday 12 March, HBF Park, Perth
Brumbies v Queensland Reds, Saturday 13 March, GIO Stadium, Canberra

Round 5
Melbourne Rebels v NSW Waratahs, Friday 19 March, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Queensland Reds v Western Force, Saturday 20 March, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Round 6
Brumbies v Western Force, Friday 26 March, GIO Stadium, Canberra
NSW Waratahs v Queensland Reds, Saturday 27 March, Venue TBC

Round 7
NSW Waratahs v Brumbies, Friday 2 April, Venue TBC
Melbourne Rebels v Queensland Reds, Saturday 3 April, AAMI Park, Melbourne

Round 8
Melbourne Rebels v Western Force, Friday 9 April, AAMI Park, Melbourne
Queensland Reds v Brumbies, Saturday 10 April, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Round 9
Brumbies v Melbourne Rebels, Friday 16 April, GIO Stadium, Canberra
Western Force v NSW Waratahs, Saturday 17 April, HBF Park, Perth

Round 10
Western Force v Queensland Reds, Friday 23 April, HBF Park, Perth
NSW Waratahs v Melbourne Rebels, Saturday 24 April, Venue TBC

Qualifying Final
Saturday 1 May

Final
Saturday 8 May

*All kick off times to be confirmed