Super Rugby Gets Australia-Only Start to Suit 2013 Lions Tour

The 2013 Super Rugby competition will have two Australia-only rounds to accommodate the British & Irish Lions tour of the country.

The southern hemisphere’s elite provincial rugby competition will start Feb. 15 with the Melbourne Rebels hosting the Western Force. The Queensland Reds visit the ACT Brumbies the following day in the opening weekend’s other game, tournament organizer South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby said today.

Australian teams will take a break when the Wallabies play the Lions in Tests on June 22, June 29 and July 6. Because those dates aren’t aligned with the June window set aside for international matches in South Africa and New Zealand, SANZAR staggered the rest periods.

“While the Lions tour obviously added an element of complexity when it came to designing the Super Rugby draw, SANZAR has worked through that process and come up with elegant solutions,” Australian Rugby Union Managing Director John O’Neill said in an e-mailed statement.

Australian Conference teams will also dominate round 17 on June 7 and 9, with the following two weekends featuring only teams from the New Zealand and South African conferences.

The playoffs are scheduled to start July 19 with the qualifiers and the semifinals set for the following weekend. The final will take place on Aug. 3.

The Lions, a combined team from the U.K. and Ireland that tours every four years, will play all five Australian Conference teams during their 10-game trip, which opens June 1 against the Barbarians in Hong Kong. Their first match in Australia is June 5 against the Force in Perth.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dan Baynes in Sydney at dbaynes@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Christopher Elser at celser@bloomberg.net

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