2018 - Present

In a brave move that recognised that the 18-team format did not work, was confusing and had diluted the standards of the competition, SANZAAR announced in April 2017 that the tournament in 2018 would be restructured. The 18-team, four Conference format was changed to a 15-team, three Conference format. Gone from the competition were the Force (Australia), Kings and Cheetahs (South Africa). The Jaguares remained in the now one South African Conference while the Sunwolves joined the Australia Conference. 

Australian Conference: Brumbies, Rebels, Reds, Waratahs, Sunwolves

New Zealand Conference: Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes

South African Conference: Bulls, Lions, Sharks, Stormers, Jaguares

Each team plays 16 regular season Conference matches that include eight matches within their own Conference (home and away) and four matches against teams from each of the other Conferences (home or away). This is 120 matches in the regular season with a seven-match, eight-team finals series.

Points Tabulation

Competition points will be awarded in all Regular Season matches on the following basis:

  • Win: 4 points
  • Draw: 2 points
  • Loss: 0 points for a loss of 8+ points
  • Bonus: 1 point for a loss between 1-7 points
  • Bonus: 1 point for scoring 3+ tries more than the opponent
  • Bye: 0 points

Finals Series

Quarter-final Hosts (4 teams)

  • Three Conference winners
  • Best Wildcard team – (based on tournament points) regardless of Conference
     

Quarter-final Wildcard spots (4 teams)

  • Four next best Wildcard teams (based on tournament points) regardless of Conference 

Tie Breaking Rules:

In the event two or more teams are equal on tournament points for any position in their respective conference at end of regular season, the following will apply to determine final conference positions:

  1. Most wins from all matches;
  2. Highest aggregate points difference from all matches;
  3. Most tries from all matches;
  4. Highest aggregate difference of total tries for versus tries scored against from all matches;
  5. Coin toss.

Quarter-final Draw:

The teams winning places in the Finals will be ranked 1-8 based on Conference Winners and the final number of competition points attained and the following order.

  • Rank 1-3 Conference winners determined by final number competition points
  • Rank 4 – Best Wildcard team based on tournament points
  • Rank 5-8: Wild cards determined by final number competition points

QF 1: 1 v 8
QF 2: 4 v 5
QF 3: 2 v 7
QF 4: 3 v 6

Semi-final Draw:

SF 1: Winner QF 1 v Winner QF 2
SF 2: Winner QF 3 v Winner QF 4

Final:

Winner SF1 v Winner SF2
 

Finals Matches- Tiebreaking Criteria:

If the teams are tied at full time in any Finals Series Match then the following will apply until a winner is found:

  • Extra Time: played in two 10 minute periods with a two-minute half time
  • Sudden Death: played for up to 10 minutes with the first team to score declared the winner
  • Kicking Competition