Rugby Australia have unveiled the full season draw for Super Rugby AU with long-standing rivals the Waratahs and Queensland Reds to open the season with the Western Force to wait till Round 2 for their long awaited return.
Kicking off on July 3, Super Rugby AU will feature Australia's four Super Rugby sides, the Waratahs, Reds, Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels, with ousted Force to make their return to the fold.
The competition will run for 12 weeks, ending with a two-week final series beginning on September 12. The Final will be hosted by the table leaders at the end of the regular rounds against the winner of a two vs. three qualifying final.
After weeks of speculation, RA confirmed all 22 matches would be broadcast live on Fox Sports on Wednesday with all matches to be played on either Friday or Saturday night. Matches will be played in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne Canberra and Perth.
"One of the main features of the draw is the consistent Friday and Saturday night primetime viewing slots on FOX SPORTS, which Rugby fans can set their watches to for the next 12 weeks," RA interim CEO Rob Clarke said in a statement.
"There will be no need to set the alarms to get up and watch your team in the middle of the night.
"We are looking forward to welcoming back the Western Force and seeing them take on their Australian rivals once again. We know there is a lot of excitement in the west and we cannot wait to see them in action.
"We know our teams will be desperate to get their hands on the silverware and players will be out to put their best foot forward for Wallabies selection at the end of the season."
Friday 3 July - Reds v Waratahs, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane - 7.05pm AEST
Saturday 4 July - Brumbies v Rebels, GIO Stadium, Canberra - 7.15pm AEST
Western Force Bye
Friday 10 July - Rebels v Reds, AAMI Park, Melbourne - 7.05pm AEST
Saturday 11 July - Waratahs v Western Force, TBC, Sydney - 7.15pm AEST
Friday 17 July - Reds v Western Force, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane - 7.05pm AEST
Saturday 18 July - Waratahs v Brumbies, TBC, Sydney - 7.15pm AEST
Friday 24 July - Rebels v Waratahs, AAMI Park, Melbourne - 7.05pm AEST
Saturday 25 July - Western Force v Brumbies, TBC - 7.15pm AEST
Friday 31 July - Western Force v Rebels, HBF Park, Perth* - 7.05pm AEST (5.05pm local)
Saturday 1 August - Brumbies v Reds, GIO Stadium, Canberra - 7.15pm AEST
Friday 7 August - Rebels v Brumbies, AAMI Park, Melbourne - 7.05pm AEST
Saturday 8 August - Waratahs v Reds, TBC, Sydney - 7.15pm AEST
Western Force Bye
Friday 14 August - Western Force v Waratahs, HBF Park, Perth* - 7.05pm AEST (5.05pm local)
Saturday 15 August - Reds v Rebels, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane - 7.15pm AEST
Friday 21 August - Western Force v Reds, HBF Park, Perth* - 7.05pm AEST (5.05pm local)
Saturday 22 August - Brumbies v Waratahs, GIO Stadium, Canberra - 7.15pm AEST
Friday 28 August - Brumbies v Western Force, GIO Stadium, Canberra - 7.05pm AEST
Saturday 29 August - Waratahs v Rebels, TBC, Sydney - 7.15pm AEST
Friday 4 September - Rebels v Western Force, AAMI Park, Melbourne - 7.05pm AEST
Saturday 5 September - Reds v Brumbies, Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane - 7.15pm AEST
(2 v 3) Saturday 12 September
(1 v winner of Qualifying Final) Saturday 19 September