Reds off to Buenos Aires for first time
RUGBY UNION: The Queensland Reds will play the Jaguares in Buenos Aires for the first time in next season's Super Rugby competition.
And the Queenslanders will have a Thursday night match - the second ever in the competition - in round two against the Force in Perth.
In 2017, Australian teams will play the second South African conference - Lions, Jaguares, Sharks and Kings.
The Reds, Force and Brumbies will play the Jaguares for the first time in Buenos Aires, while the Waratahs and Rebels will host the Argentinian side.
Queensland will tackle the second-year South American team in round five.
Super Rugby's first Thursday night match when the Melbourne Rebels host the Blues on February 23 to open the season.
The competition again will feature 18 teams across Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan and Argentina.
Rounds 15 and 16 to be split over four weeks to accommodate the British and Irish Lions series in New Zealand and the other June Test series.
SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos said he was looking forward to the continued development of the new franchises.
"The schedule will see four Sunwolves matches played in Tokyo and three matches in Singapore, while eight matches will be hosted by the Jaguares in Buenos Aires,” he said.
Both these teams made their Super Rugby debuts in 2016, with the Kings from South Africa returning after their brief spell in 2013.
"It is anticipated that all 3 teams will be better for the experience of 2016 as we look forward to seeing their continued improvement. Super Rugby continues to be the toughest rugby tournament in the world given the high level, week-to-week competition and the travelling that is undertaken.”
ARU chief executive Bill Pulver expects a big year from the Australian teams.
"Super Rugby is an unrivalled competition in the excitement and quality rugby it provides for fans,” he said.
"This year the average number of points scored per match increased from 45.3 in 2015 to 52.0, while tries were up from 5.1 to 6.4 per match.”
Round one draw (AEST): Thursday Feb 23: Rebels vs Blues, 7.45pm. Friday Feb 24: Highlanders vs Chiefs, 5.35pm. Reds vs Sharks, 8pm. Saturday Feb 25: Sunwolves vs Hurricanes, 3.15pm. Crusaders vs Brumbies, 5.35pm. Waratahs vs Force, 7.45pm. Cheetahs vs Lions, TBC. Kings vs Jaguares, TBC.