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The 2013 Super Rugby competition opens in Australia next February with two local derbies â€“ and on a weekend where no games will be staged in New Zealand or South Africa.
The Australia-only start to the season on Friday, February 15 (Rebels v Force in Melbourne) and Saturday, February 16 (Brumbies v Reds in Canberra) has been designed to accommodate the nine-game schedule of the British & Irish Lions Tour to Australia in June.
Australian teams will take a break from Super Rugby when the Qantas Wallabies play the Lions in three Tests on June 22, June 29 and July 6.
However, those dates are not aligned with the June Tests set down for South Africa and New Zealand.
Therefore, staggered rest periods for Super Rugby teams will apply across the three countries.
Two Australian local derbies will be the only Super Rugby matches played on the weekend of June 7-8 when South Africa and New Zealand will be hosting Test matches.
Similarly, Super Rugby will resume for South African and New Zealand teams when the final two Lions Tests are played in Australia.
"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," said ARU Managing Director and CEO, John O'Neill AO.
"In 2013, Australian Rugby fans will get the best of both worlds â€“ a Super Rugby competition that continues to grow in stature and status, and a tour by the British & Irish Lions that has been 12 years in the making.
"When the Lions were last in Australia in 2001, it was an historic season for the game in this country. Apart from the success of that tour by one of the world's most iconic sporting teams, an Australian side won the Super Rugby title for the first time ever.
"The Brumbies were our inaugural champions, beating the Sharks 36-6 in the final. Perhaps that will be an omen for 2013 when we look to our Super Rugby clubs, and the Qantas Wallabies, to put some of the game's most treasured possessions back in Australian trophy cabinets."
Australian Conference winners from 2012, the Queensland Reds, will kick off next season with an away game to the Brumbies at Canberra Stadium, followed by a home showdown with the Waratahs in Brisbane on Saturday, February 23.
The Brumbies play the Reds, followed by a local derby against the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday, February 22.
The Waratahs, after a bye in Round 1, will open their campaign against the Reds in Brisbane.
The Waratahs also have back-to-back Sunday afternoon games in Rounds 6 and 7, playing the Blues at Allianz Stadium on 24 March with kick off at 4.00pm. The following Sunday they will play the Force at the same venue.
The Force is away to the Rebels in the opening round and will be the Round 2 opponents for the competition newcomers, the Kings from South Africa.
The Rebels have three local derbies to launch their 2013 season. They take on the Force and Brumbies at home on February 15 and February 22 then travel to Sydney on 2 March to take on the Waratahs.
The Super Rugby finals series will kick off with qualifiers on 19-20 July, with semi-finals on 26-27 July and the competition final to be staged on Saturday, 3 August.
The full 2013 Super Rugby draw is attached.
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