The new-look Super Rugby competition for 2018 is locked in, with the draw for next year being released today.

The 2018 tournament will kick off on the 17th of February with the South African Conference. The Stormers will be hosting the Jaguares in Cape Town in the season opener, before the Lions, runners-up the last two years, host the Sharks in Johannesburg.

The Australian and New Zealand Conferences will kick off a week later when the defending champions Crusaders open the defence of their title at home against the Chiefs.

The Crusaders will have a tricky conclusion to the regular season, playing their final five games against fellow New Zealand opposition.

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The Brumbies, last year's Australian Conference winner, open the season against the Sunwolves in Tokyo who are now positioned in the Australian Conference.

SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos defended the changes, after an off-season where the competition was cut from 18 teams to 15, with the Cheetahs, Kings and Force all getting the axe.

"It was not an easy decision to reduce the number of teams but a necessary one considering the outputs from the strategic review to date. The tournament was not working with 18 teams, the structure was confusing, the outcomes of matches were becoming too predictable and the fans and stakeholders had, through our surveys, voiced their concerns."

Each team will play 16 matches, with two byes apiece. Eight teams - more than half the competition - will make the playoffs, with the three conference winners plus the next highest five sides on the overall ladder making the cut.

The final is scheduled for the 4th of August.

To see the full draw, click here
New Zealand Conference:
Blues, Chiefs, Crusaders, Highlanders, Hurricanes

Australian Conference:
Brumbies, Rebels, Reds, Waratahs, Sunwolves

South African Conference:
Bulls, Lions, Sharks, Stormers, Jaguares