Derby action will open all five New Zealand campaigns for next year's Super Rugby season when it kicks off in February.

The draw was released by SANZAR today, confirming that the Australian Conference will open the international competition with their own derbies - Rebels v Force in Melbourne on Friday, February 15 and Brumbies v Reds in Canberra a day later.

Four of the five New Zealand franchises get their 2013 campaigns under way in round two, starting with the Highlanders who host the defending champions the Chiefs at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday, February 22.

In the same round, new Blues' head coach Sir John Kirwan gets his first Super Rugby campaign under way with the Blues heading south to tackle the Hurricanes at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.


The Crusaders have a late start to their season, with their first match in round three against the Blues at the Eden Park fortress after a week two bye. Their first home game will be in round five against the Bulls at AMI Stadium.

The Australian Conference teams will be the only teams playing in round one of the competition. The same will occur in round 17 (just before the Super Rugby season 'breaks' for the June internationals), while rounds 18 and 19 (after the break) will feature only New Zealand and South African Conference teams.

This has been necessitated by the British & Irish Lions tour to Australia next year, which will see the test matches played on different dates to the normal 'June inbound' schedules.

The draw confirms 40 Super Rugby matches will be played on New Zealand soil next year, with 20 New Zealand derbies, as well as the three-week break in June for the All Blacks' three-test series against France on June 8, 15 and 22.