EIGHT HOME MATCHES FOR CANES IN 2017

The Hurricanes will have eight home matches in 2017 as they look to defend their Investec Super Rugby title. PHOTO: Dave Lintott Photography

The Hurricanes will have eight home matches in 2017 as they look to defend their Investec Super Rugby title. PHOTO: Dave Lintott Photography

Hurricanes fans can look forward to eight Investec Super Rugby home matches in 2017 as well as an historic fixture against the British & Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium.

The defending Super Rugby champions will kick off their season against the Sunwolves in Tokyo on February 25 before returning to New Zealand to play the Rebels in the first of eight regular season matches on home turf.

Though the Hurricanes home venues have not been confirmed, the club will host three New Zealand derby matches – against the Highlanders (March 18), Chiefs (June 9) and Crusaders (July 15) and five inter-conference games.

Other home games will include the Rebels (March 4), Waratahs (April 7), and the 2016 Australian Conference winning Brumbies (April 21) followed by the South African Conference winning Stormers (May 5) and the Cheetahs (May 20).

The Hurricanes away games feature three New Zealand derbies, against the Chiefs (March 10), Blues (April 15), and Crusaders (May 13), as well as visits to the Reds, in Brisbane (April 1), Bulls, in Pretoria (May 28), and Force, in Perth (June 3).

As in 2016 each team will play six matches within its own conference, nine against other conference teams, and two byes. The Hurricanes two bye rounds fall in rounds five and 10.

In addition to the a feast of Super Rugby, Wellington’s Westpac Stadium will also play host to the Hurricanes first match against an international opponent when the club plays the British & Irish Lions during the DHL New Zealand Lions Series on Tuesday, June 27.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said the squad was looking forward to playing in front of their home fans on a regular basis throughout 2017.

“In previous years we have been on the road early in the season, so to have the chance to sleep in our own beds and to get play within our region twice in the opening month is a real positive.

“What we know about Super Rugby is that whatever the draw it’s a tough competition, but there is no doubt the support we receive within the Hurricanes region gives the team a lift.”

Boyd said the chance to host the British & Irish Lions would be a particularly special occasion for the club.

“There is a lot of history there and for the Hurricanes to have the opportunity to be a part of that is something we won’t take for granted. It’s an additional challenge that I’m sure the players and fans are all looking forward to.”

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2017 Super Rugby match schedule

Features of the 2017 Super Rugby match schedule include:

·         Rebels v Blues to get season underway

·         Defending champion Hurricanes start defence away in Tokyo

·         Three full rounds to start the season

·         136 regular season matches and eight-team, seven match finals series

·         Draw schedule accounts for British & Irish Lions tour in June

·         Finals series commences July 21 with Final set for August 5

SANZAAR CEO, Andy Marinos, stated, “The new season is set to be another enthralling, action-packed one as we enter the second year of the 18-team conference-style tournament.”

“The tournament saw some fantastic rugby last year and we look forward in particular to the continued development of the new franchises that added exciting new territories and colour to the tournament.”

“The schedule will see seven Sunwolves matches played in Asia while eight matches will be hosted by the Jaguares in Buenos Aires. Both these teams made their Super Rugby debuts in 2016, with the Kings from South Africa returning after their brief spell in 2013.

“It is anticipated that all 3 teams will be better for the experience of 2016 as we look forward to seeing their continued improvement. Super Rugby continues to be the toughest rugby tournament in the world given the high level, week-to-week competition and the travelling that is undertaken.

“We enjoyed a global audience of just over 50 million viewers for the 20th edition of Super Rugby with just over two million fans attending the matches. I would like to say a big thank you to all the fans and supporters for their support through 2016 and look forward to having our competition entertain and entice you through 2017,” added Marinos.

Hurricanes 2017 Investec Super Rugby draw (Home matches in bold)

v Sunwolves, Tokyo, Saturday, February 25

v Rebels, Saturday, March 4, 5.15pm

v Chiefs, Friday, March 10, 7:35pm

v Highlanders, Saturday, March 18, 7:35pm

v Reds, Brisbane, Saturday, April 1, 9:45pm

v Waratahs, Friday, April 7, 7:35pm

v Blues, Saturday, April 15, 7:35pm

v Brumbies, Friday, April 21, 7:35pm

v Stormers, Friday, May 5, 7:35pm

v Crusaders, Christchurch, Saturday, May 13, 7:35pm

v Cheetahs, Saturday, May 20, 7:35pm

v Bulls, Pretoria, Sunday, May 28, 1:05am

v Force, Perth, Saturday, June 3, 11:55pm

v Chiefs, Friday, June 9, 7:35pm

v Crusaders, Saturday, July 15, 7:35pm

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