TODAY |

Super Rugby given earliest ever start for 2020 season as Blues face Chiefs in January

Next year's Super Rugby season will begin earlier than any other year in the competition's history, with the first match to be held in January.

As SANZAAR today revealed the schedule for the 2020 Super Rugby season, fans can expect the earliest ever start to the season, with the Blues and the Chiefs getting the competition underway on January 31 at Eden Park.

Meanwhile, the defending champion Crusaders will begin their quest for a fourth straight title on February 1, facing off against the Waratahs at Nelson's Trafalgar Park.

The Hurricanes face a daunting away trip to South Africa to begin their 2020 season, up against the Stormers in Cape Town, while the Highlanders have been awarded a bye for the opening week - facing the Sharks in Dunedin a week later on February 7 to get their campaign underway.

What's more, with the shift of the international season, Super Rugby will run uninterrupted from January 31 through until July. 

Matches themselves also have an earlier kick-off time, moved half an hour earlier to 7:05pm for a New Zealand-based match, fan feedback said to be the driving force behind the move.

"Our fans told us quite clearly they'd prefer matches to start and finish earlier. All five of our Investec Super Rugby clubs have listened and both our Sanzaar partners and Sky agreed to the changes," NZ Rugby Chief Rugby Officer Nigel Cass said.

"For families and for those with young kids in particular, a later kick off can present some challenges, especially when the weather doesn't come to the party. The earlier kick off times mean matches will finish a little earlier, which we think is a bit more fan friendly for everyone."

Click here for the full draw of Super Rugby 2020.

Blues winger Rieko Ioane in action against the Chiefs at Eden Park. Source: Photosport