|No. of teams||14|
|Most recent champion(s)||Template:Country data RSA Bulls|
The Super 14 is the biggest rugby union football club championship in the southern hemisphere, consisting of provincial teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The fourteen sides all compete against one another, with no divisional or pool system. Each team plays 13 games during the regular season which runs for fourteen weeks.
The teams in the top four places on the competition ladder after the regular season enter the finals leg of the tournament. The semi-finals are contested to decide the two finalists, which is played at the highest ranked winners' home ground, as opposed to a pre-selected neutral venue.
The current competition was inaugurated in 1996, and from the first season through to 2005, the competition was known as Super 12; the name change came about following the expansion for the 2006 season. The term Super Rugby is sometimes used when talking about the Super 14 and Super 12 collectively. Matches are now broadcast in 41 countries.
Competition format and sponsorshipEdit
The Super 14 is a round-robin competition where each team plays every other team once; a team has six or seven home games, and six or seven away games each. There are 91 regular season games in total. Games are held over 14 weekends with each team receiving one bye. The Super 14 uses the Rugby union bonus points system. The top four teams at the end of the round-robin phase then play semifinals - the first placed team hosts the fourth placed team, and the second placed team hosts the third placed team. The two winners then play the final at the home ground of the top surviving seed.
Super 6 & Super 10Edit
Before 1996, regular competitive rugby union had taken shape in a number of southern hemisphere competitions, the earliest of which was the South Pacific Championship, which was launched in 1986. The original competition consisted of three teams from New Zealand; Auckland, Canterbury, Wellington along with two Australian teams; Queensland and New South Wales, and Fiji. The competition was relaunched as the Super Six (or the Super Sixes) in 1992, following Australia's win at the 1991 World Cup. The competition proved so popular that it was restructured again following the first Super Six season. The competition was renamed the Super 10 (or the Super Tens) , which introduced South African teams, as well as Western Samoa in 1993 and 1994, and Tonga in 1995, with Fiji not participating.
Following the success of the 1995 World Cup Australia, New Zealand and South Africa rugby boards formed SANZAR (South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby) to administer an annual 12-team provincial competition pitting regional teams of the then three strongest rugby nations against each other. In addition it was decided to hold an annual Tri-Nations Test Series between the three countries. A significant reason for the development of the Super 12 was the threat to rugby union from rival football code rugby league; especially in Australia and New Zealand where league had a significant following. When the new rugby league competition the Super League was formed, it threatened to entice the best rugby union players to play rugby league because of significantly higher salaries being offered to its players. Another strong reason was the introduction, in Australia especially, of pay (or subscription) television. A key part of the business model for the Foxtel pay TV network in Australia was to attract subscribers by offering an exclusive product (such as rugby union) which could not be seen on free-to-air broadcast television. By setting up the Super 12, the Unions had a product that was in demand from viewers, enabling them to sell a 10 year contract for exclusive television rights to News Corp for US$ 555 million, giving them both coverage and financial support to kickstart the new competition.
So with significant sponsorship and rugby turning a professional sport in 1995, the Super 12 competition successfully kicked off in 1996 with five domestic New Zealand, four domestic South African and three domestic Australian teams competing. New Zealands dominance of the competition began in the first year when the Auckland Blues won the inaugural competition deafeating South African side the Natal Sharks 45 - 21 in a home Grand Final. The Blues would repeat the success of 1996 beating Australian side the ACT Brumbies 23 - 7 in the 1997 Grand Final.
The men from Auckland then reached their third straight grand final in 1998 but went down to fellow countrymen the Canterbury Crusaders 13 - 20. This would mark the beginning of the Crusaders three-year dynasty as they went on to win the 1999 and 2000 Grand Finals over the Otago Highlanders & ACT Brumbies respectively. The 2001 season was the first in which no New Zealand franchise reached the Grand Final, it was contested between the ACT Brumbies and Natal Sharks where the Brumbies were convincing winners with a 36 - 6 victory.
From the early 2000s Australia started to push for the inclusion of a fourth Australian team, and South Africa for another team from its country. There was also speculation of including a team from the South Pacific Island nations, such as Fiji; or a combined Pacific Islanders team from Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. Argentina was also pushing for inclusion in the Super 12. New Zealand powerhouses the Crusaders won their 4th grand final in 2002 and missed out on their 5th in 2003 with a four-point loss to fellow countrymen the Blues. In 2004 the Brumbies took revenge on their 2000 Grand Final loss to the Crusaders defeating them 47 - 38 in front of a home crowd. The Crusaders would bounce back to win the 2005 Grand Final 35 - 25 against the Australian side the New South Wales Waratahs who reached their first ever Grand Final. It was the last year of the 12 team format.
In September 2004, SANZAR began negotiations for a new television deal to take effect in 2006. That December, SANZAR announced that a new TV deal had been signed, with News Corporation winning the rights for the UK, Australia and New Zealand and Supersport winning rights for South Africa. The contract is worth USD 323 million over five years, which is a 16% annual increase compared to the previous deal. It covers international fixtures as well as the Super 14. SANZAR remained free to negotiate separate deals for other markets, such as France, Japan and the Americas.
Under the new deal, Australia and South Africa each got one extra team in the competition, and a third round of fixtures was added to the Tri Nations Series. The proposal also included the possibility of splitting the updated Super 14 into two seven-team divisions, but it was decided to keep the competition in its traditional single-table format. However, Argentina and the Pacific Islands remain shut out of the competition under this proposal.
It was confirmed in 2005 that the new Australian team in the competition will be based in Perth and was named the Western Force. The addition of the new South African team led to considerable controversy, including government involvement. Finally, the five teams for 2006 were confirmed to be the country's existing four teams, plus the Central Cheetahs, which will draw its players from the Free State and Northern Cape Provinces.
The two new teams didn't perform all that well, the South African franchise the Cheetahs did the best of the two teams finishing 10th on the ladder notching up 5 season wins. While the Australian franchise the Western Force only managed one victory and ended winning the wooden spoon as last placed 14th. The highlight for the Force was a 23-all draw against eventual champions the Crusaders, who defeated first-time Grand Finalists the Wellington Hurricanes 19 - 12.
For the 2007 season, 22 All Blacks missed the competition's first seven rounds as part of an All Black "conditioning programme". The conditioning programme was a part of the All Blacks' 2007 Rugby World Cup preparations, and every New Zealand franchise were without players for the first seven rounds. At the end of the regular season, for the first time since 1998, no Australian franchise had made the semi-finals. Although the Brumbies were strong and the Western Force experienced vast improvement it was a poor season for the Queensland Reds & Waratahs who finished last and second last respectiveley. Also, it was known before the final that the competition would be won for the first time ever by a South African team, as the Sharks and Bulls, who finished 1-2 on the season ladder, both won their respective semifinals. The final, held in Durban, saw the visiting Bulls win 20-19.
Future of the Super 14Edit
There have been reports that South Africa may withdraw from the Super 14 post-2010. It has been speculated that South Africa may want to align themselves with European nations instead, due to the better time zone and travel issues. There are reports that South African officials feel they are disadvantaged due to the long away legs of the tournament.
On the other hand, with the possibility of Argentina joining the Tri Nations, the South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins expressed his desire for two Argentina teams be included into the competition, expanding it to a "Super 16". 
Super rugby recordsEdit
- Highest score: 96 – Crusaders v Waratahs (19), 2002
- Lowest score: 0 – Bulls v Brumbies (15), 1999; Cats v Brumbies (64), 2000; Bulls v Highlanders (23), 2005; Brumbies v Blues (17), 2006; Reds v Brumbies (36), 2007; Force v Crusaders (53)
- Lowest combined score: Brumbies vs Reds (6-3) 2007
- Highest winning margin: 89 – Bulls v Reds (92-3), 2007
- Highest score away: 60 – Blues v Hurricanes (7), 2002
- Most consecutive wins: 15 – Crusaders, 2002/03
- Most consecutive losses: 11 – Bulls, 2002
- Most tries in a match: 14 – Crusaders v Waratahs, 2002
- Most tries in a season: 71 – Crusaders, 2005
- Fewest tries in a season: 15 – Blues, 1999, 2000; Reds, 2007
- Most wins in a season: 11 – Crusaders, 2002 regular season
- Fewest wins in a season: 0 – Bulls, 2002 regular season
- Most wins in a row at home: 26 – Crusaders, 2004-2007
- Points: 50 – Gavin Lawless, Sharks
- Tries: 4 – Joe Roff, Brumbies; Gavin Lawless, Stefan Terblanche, both Sharks
- Conversions: 13 – Andrew Mehrtens, Crusaders
- Penalties: 8 – Jannie Kruger, Derick Hougaard, Bulls
- Points: 926 – Andrew Mehrtens, Crusaders
- Tries: 58 Doug Howlett, Blues
- Conversions: 148 – Matt Burke, Waratahs
- Penalties: 195 – Andrew Mehrtens, Crusaders
- Points: 221 – Daniel Carter, Crusaders, 2006
- Tries: 15 - Joe Roff, Brumbies, 1997; Rico Gear, Crusaders, 2005
- Conversions: 39 – Stirling Mortlock, Brumbies, 2000
- Penalties: 44 – Andrew Mehrtens, Crusaders, 1999
- ↑ Super 14 to be broadcast into 41 countries. globalsuper14.com. Retrieved on 17 July, 2006.
- ↑ 2007 Super 14 Fixtures. super14.com. Retrieved on 2007-04-16.
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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- ↑ 4.0 4.1 More for players in new SANZAR deal. worldcupweb.com. Retrieved on 17 July, 2006.
- ↑ "All Blacks pulled out of the Super 14", planet-rugby.com, 2006-08-20. Retrieved on 2007-01-24.
- ↑ "Henry reveals his 'World Cup team'", planet-rugby.com, 2006-09-11. Retrieved on 2007-01-24.
- ↑ Leggat, David. "Getting the balance in Super 14", nzherald.co.nz, 2006-09-22. Retrieved on 2006-09-24.
- ↑ "Report: SA could bow out of Super 14", Sapa-AFP, Mail&Guardian, 2006-10-21. Retrieved on 2006-10-22.
- ↑ "Could Tri Nations become four?", Rugby Heaven, 2007-02-26. Retrieved on 2007-05-03.
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