Five Super Rugby AU matches to put in your diary in 2021

International
by Christy Doran

The good news in Australian rugby continued to filter through on Wednesday, with confirmation of the 2021 Super Rugby AU draw.

The announcement comes just two days after Nine Entertainment became Rugby Australia's new broadcast partners for 2021 and beyond.

It also follows the Wallabies' stunning 24-22 Tri Nations win over the All Blacks in Brisbane, which capped a stunning reversal in form following their record defeat to the same opposition a week earlier.

WATCH THE ALL BLACKS PLAY ARGENTINA PUMAS AT BANKWEST STADIUM, SATURDAY 14 NOV. TICKETS HERE

Super Rugby AU 2021 will be a 22-match tournament played over 12 weeks, including a qualifying final and final on May 8.

But what are the five matches to put in your diary? 

QUEENSLAND REDS V NSW WARATAHS at Suncorp Stadium, February 19

Mate against mate, state against state. Two states playing for the Bob Templeton Cup on the opening night of Super Rugby AU. Even better, the match will be the first Super Rugby match broadcast live on free-to-air TV.

The Reds at long last broke their seven-year drought against the Waratahs in 2020, but before they could even get to know the Cup they were bidding it farewell as their rivals had a first-half to remember at the SCG to win it back.

The Waratahs will have a new captain in 2021, with Rob Simmons heading overseas and Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper activating a sabbatical for the Super Rugby season, which will see him play in Japan under Simon Cron and Steve Hansen and alongside former All Blacks captain Kieran Read.

Thorn's Reds side will largely be the same from the one that made massive strides in 2020, while there will be plenty of anticipation around how Rob Penney's Waratahs perform now that the New Zealand coach is entering his second season with the franchise.

WESTERN FORCE V BRUMBIES AT HBF PARK, FEBRUARY 19

At long last, the Western Force will be able to play in front of the Sea of Blue.

COVID-19 meant that the Force were forced to play away from home for entirety of their return to Super Rugby action in 2020. 

It was a tragedy for the entire squad, the Sea of Blue and Western Australian Rugby, who had stuck by their side for a couple of years during their absence from Super Rugby.

So what an occasion it will be for the Force to register their maiden win since their return to top-flight rugby in Australia after going so close so many times in 2020.

This one will have plenty of feeling in it, and it comes straight off the back of the tournament's opener in Brisbane.

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MELBOURNE REBELS V BRUMBIES at AAMI PARK, SATURDAY 6 MARCH

Similarly to the Force, the Rebels were forced to play away from Melbourne during Super Rugby AU.

Dave Wessels' men had just 24 hours to pack their things and prepare for life on the road as the borders closed.

Thankfully, they did have a couple of home games earlier in the season to give their starved rugby fans something to cheer about. They notched important wins over the Waratahs and Lions too.

On the back of their maiden finals berth, the Rebels will be hungry for more success.

BRUMBIES V QUEENSLAND REDS AT GIO STADIUM, SATURDAY 13 MARCH

How good is a grand final re-match!

In 2020, the Reds were overzealous and shot themselves in the foot with some terrible discipline.

It robbed them of seriously competing to steal the title from Dan McKellar's Brumbies, who all year had been the most consistent Australian side by a long way.

McKellar is still with the Brumbies.

He turned down the Wallabies' forwards assistant coach role to stay put with the Brumbies because of the departure of Peter Hewat and a desire to keep the Brumbies' proud record alive.

Meanwhile, Thorn has some unfinished business to attend to and snapping their drought in Canberra will be a significant piece of the puzzle to seeing the Reds lift the trophy at season's end.

WESTERN FORCE V NSW WARATAHS AT HBF PARK, SATURDAY 17 APRIL 

There's something about the Waratahs that brings out the best in the Force.

It was in their penultimate match of 2017 that the Force hammered Daryl Gibson's men in Perth. 

They'll be hoping to spoil the party again against the men wearing blue and from Sydney.

Expect this one to get niggly, with finals footy just around the corner.

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