Transtasman competition appears to be all go

The Highlanders will host the good and the bad from across the Ditch.

The Super Rugby transtasman competition now appears to be all go after the announcement yesterday of a transtasman bubble due to start on April 19.

New Zealand Rugby and the Australian Rugby Union last year announced a competition involving the 10 Super Rugby sides from the two countries to start in the middle of May.

But with borders still not opening and Covid-19 breakouts in both countries still occurring, a chance of a combined Super Rugby competition looked remote.

But things have improved and the competition should be set to go ahead. NZR had not confirmed the competition late yesterday.

The Highlanders will play their last game of the regular season of the Super Rugby Aotearoa competition on April 30 against the Hurricanes in Wellington.

The final is scheduled to be played the next week.

The transtasman competition will then get under way. Like Super Rugby Aotearoa, the Highlanders will play the bulk of their games on Friday nights.

The Highlanders will host the first game of the combined competition and will take on the Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium. The Reds lead the Australian competition.

From there, the side will travel to Perth to take on the Force on May 21, again a Friday night.

The third round of the competition will have all five games played at the one venue, known as the magic round. The venue of the magic round has yet to be confirmed.

Forsyth Barr Stadium is unlikely to host the magic round and it may be at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. The Highlanders will play the Rebels in the magic round on May 28.

The Highlanders will then come back to Dunedin to host the Waratahs, who are having a poor season, on June 5 and then head to Canberra to play the Brumbies on June 11.

The final will then by played on June 19 between the two top teams on the competition ladder, regardless if they come from the same country.

Highlanders assistant coach Clarke Dermody said yesterday prior to the announcement to open the border, that he did not mind what competition was to be played by the team.

"It is something that has not really been a focus for us. The competition is really week to week so you have got to be right on," he said.

"I can see the benefit in both to be fair.

"Playing different teams and styles is going to be good for the players and coaches.

"But the New Zealand competition is so physical and you have got to be at your best all the time to be in with a shot."

There was talk of a bubble containing all 10 teams in Australia if border restrictions were not lifted but cost made that an unlikely starter.

Countries were looking to play among themselves in a third round should the transtasman competition not go ahead.

Tests are expected to follow with the All Blacks set to host the Italians for two tests and a test against the Fijians.

The Rugby Championship is set to be shared between New Zealand and Australia with Argentina and South Africa playing games in both countries.

 

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