New Zealand teams playing in Tokyo, Fiji and Apia, and an eruption of new talent coming through the ranks are just a few of the highlights of the 2017 Investec Super Rugby season that kicks off in 9 days-time when the Blues take on the Rebels in Melbourne on 23 February.
The 2017 season was officially launched in Auckland and presented the #SuperBoomBoom advertising campaign; involving globally feted Kiwi choreographer Parris Goebel, international YouTube beauty and make-up sensation Shaaanxo, rugby presenter Scotty Stevenson and veteran sports broadcaster Martin Devlin and set to the song ‘Crank it woah’ by Kideko & George Kwali.
New Zealand Rugby General Manager Rugby Neil Sorensen said that Super Rugby had experienced an awesome year in 2016 and 2017 was set to be even better.
“Rugby is really important to hundreds of thousands of Kiwis, #SuperBoomBoom is aimed at young fans who love the radical nature of this world class competition.
“More and more people are tuning into rugby. Parris Goebel’s 2016 #SuperBangBang campaign helped lead a twenty-one percent increase in people attending games and ten percent more television viewers. The great news is that nearly fifty percent of Investec Super Rugby fans are women.
“It’s brilliant that Parris Goebel and her team have hooked up with Super Rugby again, she’s an incredibly talented young Kiwi. The new #SuperBoomBoom commercial was released on social media last Thursday and has already been viewed by over one million people online. That kind of impact shows the level of interest there is in the competition.
“In 2016 New Zealand teams dominated the Super Rugby competition, with three local sides reaching the semi-finals. The strong team line up means that 2017 is shaping up to match that success.
“It’s great that we have been able to retain most of the experienced players that made our Super Rugby teams so successful in 2016 while still finding room for five to six new kids in each squad to debut this year, highlighting the incredilbe depth of talent New Zealand teams have to choose from.
“The strong crop of young talent pushing through will be exciting to watch. The youngest player in the New Zealand Super Rugby teams is Rieko Ioane, who will turn 20 just after the season starts next year, and who has already forced his way into the All Blacks squad.
“2017 also sees the introduction of new World Rugby tackle laws that seek to prevent head injuries. The desired outcome is to shift tackler behaviour from higher, upright tackles to lower, bent at the waist tackles, which the evidence strongly suggests will protect both the tackler and the ball carrier.
“We support this initiative because the research shows it will protect player’s health, but undoubtedly there will be a bedding-in period while players and fans get used to the changes.”
New Zealand teams in action
The Blues play the Rebels in Melbourne in the first game of the 2017 competition on Thursday 23 February. The Highlanders play the Chiefs on Friday the 24th in Dunedin, the Hurricanes kick of their title defence against the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday the 25th with the Crusaders hosting the Brumbies in Christchurch on the same day.
The competition takes a break from in June for the annual June Test series which this year sees the Lions tour New Zealand.
Round 17, the last of the regular season, kicks off on 14 July, with the qualifiers (quarterfinals) the following weekend on 21 and 22 July. The semi-finals will be played on 28 and 29 July with the Final scheduled for 5 August.
(Editorial provided by New Zealand Rugby)