From 2006, the Super 14 replaces the world's decade-old premier provincial rugby (union) competition, the Super 12, which was contested every year from 1996 to 2005 between twelve teams from Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, three of international rugby's powerhouses.
After ten years of the Super 12, NewsCorp's broadcasting deal with the SANZAR Rugby Unions came due for renewal, with a desire for more games coming from both broadcasters and the public. The South African, Australian, and New Zealand rugby unions togther proposed a dual expansion of the Super 12 and their Tri Nations test series, with one extra provincial amalgam team each from Australia and South Africa, providing a longer round-robin series.
The original Super 12 was founded after the success of the South African-hosted 1995 Rugby World Cup, when there was a huge demand for more rugby in these three countries. The existing provincial tournaments in each country were the inspiration for a new, cross-border competition involving collective teams from adjoining provinces, with twelve teams spread across the three nations considered the strongest in international rugby: at the time, no other countries had ever won the World Cup, a trend which ended only two Cups later with England's victory.
Since its inception, the Super 12 had been rife with suggestions of creating an additional Australian or South African team (often at the expense of the Chiefs from New Zealand) or even a team based in San Francisco. However, these did not come to pass, and the Chiefs' 2004 performance provided justification for their continued inclusion. These discussions eventually formed the basis for the expanded contest.
This expansion was the largest change ever to occur in the competition: it had remained essentially unchanged since its founding, apart from irregular South African team selection. The Free State Cheetahs' selection to take the place of Western Province in the 1997 contest was before then the biggest alteration - and one that was reversed the next year.
The competition is to be organised by the SANZAR board (South Africa-New Zealand-Australia Rugby), which is known for its innovative rulemaking - some of which has been adopted by the IRB. Teams receive four points on the competition table for a win, two for a draw, and none for a loss, as well as bonus points available for scoring four tries or more, or losing by seven points or less (a converted try worth), promoting exciting rugby as teams strive to cross the tryline rather than settling for kicks at goal.
The proposal leaves room for the contest to be split into two seven-team (likely eastern and western) pools, but a final announcement has not been made and the format may change over the course of the five-year contract. The Australian teams would most likely be split between two South African- and New Zealand-dominated pools.
There are five teams from New Zealand, five from South Africa and four from Australia.
- From New Zealand:
- From Australia:
- From South Africa
South Africa's team-selection process makes it uncertain which teams will compete, but they are likely to include the usual Super 12 teams along with an extra: