Super Rugby
2012 Super Rugby fixtures announced
ESPNscrum Staff
September 2, 2011
The Reds celebrate with the Super Rugby trophy, Reds v Crusaders, Super Rugby Final, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia, July 9, 2011
The Reds won last season's Super Rugby series courtesy of a dramatic win over the Crusaders © Getty Images

New Zealand's top two finishers in this year's Super Rugby series, the Blues and the Crusaders, will meet in the opening game of the 2012 campaign, on February 24.

The All-Kiwi affair will be followed on the same day by two more derbies: the Brumbies' meeting with Western Force in Canberra and the Bulls' clash with the Sharks in Pretoria.

The Reds will kick off the defence of their title the following day with a trip to Sydney to take on the Waratahs. Also on Saturday, the Chiefs will host fellow New Zealanders the Highlanders, the Stormers will welcome the Hurricanes to Cape Town and the Lions will tackle compatriots the Cheetahs. The Melbourne Rebels will have a bye on the opening weekend.

Next season's schedule, which was announced on Friday by SANZAR, is notable for the fact it contains, for the first time ever, a mid-season break between June 2 and June 29 to avoid a clash with the annual summer internationals.

SANZAR CEO Greg Peters said of the fixture list: "When you play a competition over three geographical territories separated by the Indian Ocean, preparing the draw is always going to be challenging. We wanted to ensure that the 2012 competition started with some key matchups in each territory.

"As was the case in 2011, the first few rounds of play will feature a majority of local derbies before most teams begin travelling from week three onwards."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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