The 2017 Super Rugby season is the 22nd season of Super Rugby, an annual rugby union competition organised by SANZAAR between teams from Argentina, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Africa. It is the second season featuring an expanded 18-team format, following the competition's expansion from 15 teams prior to the 2016 season.
After 17 rounds of matches between 23 February and 15 July – with Rounds 15 and 16 split due to the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand – four conference winners and four wildcard teams will progress to the finals series, which will consist of quarterfinals, semifinals and a final on 5 August.
The 18 participating teams are divided into two geographical groups, each consisting of two conferences: the Australasian Group, with five teams in the Australian Conference and five teams in the New Zealand Conference and the South African Group, with six South African teams, one Argentine team and one Japanese team split into two four-team conferences – an Africa 1 Conference and an Africa 2 Conference.
In the group stages, there will be 17 rounds of matches, where each team played 15 matches and had two rounds of byes for a total of 135 matches. Due to the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in June and July, Rounds 15 and 16 were split; Round 15 of the Australian and New Zealand Conferences will be played on the weekend of 3 June, with Round 16 of the New Zealand Conference scheduled for the following week. The South African Conference Round 15 matches will be played on the weekend of 1 July, with the Round 16 matches for the Australian and South African conferences scheduled for a week later.
Teams play six intra-conference matches; in the four-team African Conferences, each team plays the other three teams in their conference at home and away, while in the five-team Australasian Conferences, each team plays two teams home and away and once against the other two teams (one at home and one away). The other nine matches are a single round of matches against each team in the other conference in their group, as well as against each team from one of the conferences in the other group. For 2017, the teams in Africa 1 play the teams in the New Zealand Conference, while the teams in Africa 2 play the teams in the Australian Conference.
The top team in each of the four conferences will qualify for the quarterfinals. The next three highest-ranked teams in the Australasian Group and the next highest-ranked team in the South African group will also qualify to the quarterfinals as wildcards. The conference winners will be seeded #1 to #4 for the quarterfinals, in order of log points gained during the group stages, while the wildcards will be seeded as #5 to #8 in order of log points gained during the group stages.
In the quarterfinals, the conference winners will host the first round of the finals, with the highest-seeded conference winner hosting the fourth-seeded wildcard entry, the second-seeded conference winner hosting the third-seeded wildcard entry, the third-seeded conference winner hosting the second-seeded wildcard entry and the fourth-seeded conference winner hosting the top-seed wildcard entry.
The quarterfinal winners will progress to the semifinals. Instead of the following the Shaughnessy playoff format used from 1996 to 2016, the semi-finals will be drawn according to a predetermined bracket. Under the new format, the winner of Quarter-final 1 (which will feature the highest-seeded conference winner and the lowest-seeded wildcard) will play the winner of Quarter-final 4 (which will feature the fourth-seeded conference winner and the highest-seeded wildcard) and likewise with the winners of Quarter-finals 2 and 3. The two semi-final hosts will be the highest-seeded winners of their respective quarter-finals.
The winners of the semifinals will advance to the final, at the venue of the highest-seeded team.
The current conference standings for the 2017 Super Rugby season are:
The table below shows each team's progression throughout the season. For each round, their cumulative points total is shown with the overall log position in brackets:
The fixtures for the 2017 Super Rugby competition were released on 20 September 2016. The following matches will be played during the regular season:
The following squads were named for the 2017 Super Rugby season:
The following refereeing panel was appointed by SANZAAR for the 2017 Super Rugby season: