Record Crowd Set for 2017 Super Rugby Final

On Saturday the 2017 Super Rugby Final kicks-off at Emirates Airlines Park in Johannesburg between the Lions (South Africa) and the Crusaders (New Zealand). The match is set to break the all-time attendance match record of 61,823 crowd set at ANZ Stadium, Sydney, at the 2014 Super Rugby Final.

The Lions, runners-up in 2016 to the Hurricanes, are appearing in their second successive Super Rugby final and will be keen to add their name to the Champions list for the first time. The Crusaders are the most successful team in Super Rugby history having won the Super Rugby title seven times.

SANZAAR CEO, Andy Marinos said, “The final is highly anticipated by rugby fans and will see the best two teams of the season go head to head for the title this year. Lions fans, disappointed not to have seen their team win the title last year in Wellington, have ensured a bumper crowd will be present in Johannesburg with the Lions confirming it is a sell out.”

Lions CEO, and former Springbok, Rudolph Straueli, said, “Lions fans are passionate about their rugby and are desperate to see their team win the title. When the tickets went on sale they sold out within a matter of two hours. The last time we had a sell out was the Springboks versus All Blacks a few years ago and I believe we will set a new Super Rugby record on Saturday when the Lions take on the Crusaders.”

The two teams had their captain’s run training sessions at Emirates Airlines Park today and both declared themselves fit and raring to go in the final. Lions captain Jaco Kriel and Crusaders captain Sam Whitelock appeared with the Super Rugby trophy at the stadium to promote the global broadcast by SuperSport.

2017 Super Rugby Final

Saturday 5 August: Lions versus Crusaders at Emirates Airlines Park, Johannesburg.

Kick-off Times

Saturday 5 August: 1100 Argentina, South Africa 1600, Singapore/West Australia 2200, Japan 2300, Australia (Mid-night 0000)

Sunday 6 August: 0200 New Zealand

Super Rugby Past Winners






Injuries to Chris Pollock and Steve Walsh have prompted changes to the referees appointments for Round 9 matches in Super Rugby this weekend.

Pollock has withdrawn from the match between the Rebels and the Highlanders in Melbourne on Friday and has been replaced by Garratt Williamson, whilst Walsh, who was due to referee the match between the Brumbies and the Western Force in Canberra on Sunday, is replaced by Keith Brown.

“Changes have had to be made with Steve Walsh and Chris Pollock recovering from minor calf strains,” said SANZAR Game Manager, Lyndon Bray.

“The selection team for the referees was determined to ensure that these two top performing referees were fully fit for their next assignments, from Round 10 onwards. There was simply too much doubt around their injuries to risk them in the middle this weekend. Any recurrence of the injuries might have seen them out for between four and six weeks, if we put the injuries under pressure over 80 minutes,” Bray said.

The selection team has, meanwhile, made one change to the Round 10 appointments.

“The selectors have decided to move Jonathon White onto the Blues vs Rebels match in Albany on Friday 22 April and bring Steve Walsh into the Reds vs Waratahs match on Saturday 23rd. Swapping Jonathon from that match onto the Albany match was a simple ‘horses for courses’ decision.

“The game in Brisbane is a ‘top-of-the-table clash and has the potential to determine the top team from the Australian Conference.

“Whilst Jonathon is a highly regarded referee, he has only recently entered the 2011 competition and after two games is beginning to rekindle the form he demonstrated last year. The right decision is to put Steve, who has been performing extremely well, into this critical home conference fixture,” Bray said.

Issued by SANZAR

Canterbury Crusaders will host the Sharks in a historic, one-off match at the hallowed home of rugby, Twickenham in London, on Sunday March 27.

A ripple effect from the tragic Christchurch earthquake of February 22 is that the Canterbury Crusaders will host the Sharks in a historic, one-off match at the hallowed home of rugby, Twickenham in London, on Sunday March 27.

England’s Rugby Football Union yesterday agreed to permitting a match which is likely to be the first – and last (natural disasters permitting!) – official match involving SANZAR (the alliance between South Africa, New Zealand and Australia) teams outside the Southern Hemisphere.

The cash-strapped Crusaders asked the RFU and the Sharks to agree to the match because of the financial losses they are experiencing because they cannot stage Super Rugby games at their quake-damaged stadium (32 000 capacity) and have been forced to use smaller satellite venues (around 10 000 capacity) in their region, and are further hit by the loss of revenue from suites and other match-day revenue.

Twickenham has a capacity of 82 000 and with tickets being charged in pounds, everybody will be a winner (the Sharks will get a healthy share of the gate).

The RFU initially turned down the request because of a clash on the requested Saturday with a local Premiership match at Twickenham’s adjacent Stoop ground between Harlequins and Gloucester, but the Crusaders and Sharks then agreed to move their game to the Sunday.

The RFU said in a statement “”We know we’ve got 900 000 South Africans in the London metropolitan area, 600 000 Australians and a quarter of a million Kiwis, so we’re hoping they’ll come out for it.

“It’s fantastic news that we were able to find a date that would enable us to host the game as the centrepiece of a weekend of fundraising for the people of Christchurch.”

The Sharks are in New Zealand and will play the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday before embarking on the epic 24-hour journey to London. They will have a day of recovery on the Crusaders, who play the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.

Sharks CEO, Brian van Zyl, had this to say about the move to Twickenham: “It is great to finally have confirmation of the date and venue for our match against the Crusaders as things have been a uncertain to date. In addition, we are extremely pleased to be part of a match that is about so much more than competitive rugby. We believe that it is critical for us to unite around this cause in support of our New Zealand counterparts. We urge all South Africans in London to join us at Twickenham for the match.”

by Mike Greenaway

SANZAR appoints Game Manager

The newly-established SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia Rugby) organisation based in Sydney has appointed former international referee Lyndon Bray to the new role of Game Manager.

Bray is currently the High Performance Referee Manager for the New Zealand Rugby Union a role he has held since September 2008 and will relocate to Sydney in April this year when he commences his SANZAR role.

Bray will be responsible for all of the in-game technical elements of SANZAR competitions including overseeing game trends, match officials and direct liaison with coaches.

Bray started officiating at the Provincial level in 1990 and began his Test refereeing career in 2001 when he officiated in the international between Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. His last international was a 2008 Tri Nations Test between the Springboks and Wallabies in Durban.

In all, Bray refereed in seven internationals, 23 Super Rugby matches and 38 games in New Zealand’s premier provincial competition, the then-Air New Zealand Cup. In total, Bray has refereed 119 first class matches.

SANZAR CEO Greg Peters said Bray was identified as the right person for this specialist role from a recruitment process which attracted applications from around the world.

“Lyndon has made a successful transition from officiating on the field to a game management role and he has already been overseeing much of this activity in his capacity as SANZAR Referee Manager under the NZRU’s management of SANZAR activity over the past year, prior to the establishment of the new organisation.

“As SANZAR enters this new era, I am confident Lyndon will be able to continue the development of our game on the field following the progress made in 2010; and continue the tradition of innovation and excitement in our competitions.”

Bray said he was looking forward to the challenge of the new role and the prospects for SANZAR to accelerate the development of southern hemisphere rugby in the years ahead.

“What really excites me about this role is the opportunity to have an influence and impact not only on the refereeing of the game, but the way in which we in SANZAR like to see the game played,” said Bray.

“The chance to work with the top coaches in our game throughout SANZAR was a major factor in my decision and I am confident that my existing relationship with South African, Australian and New Zealand referees and managers will allow me to work closely with our match officials across the SANZAR boundaries.”

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