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Highlanders & Blues to kick off 2005 Super 12

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The Highlanders and Blues will kick off the 2005 Rebel Sport Super 12 competition in a New Zealand derby at Carisbrook in Dunedin on Friday 25 February.

The Board of SANZAR, representing the South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby Unions, today released the draw for the 2005 Rebel Sport Super 12 competition.

Three other New Zealand franchises ‘ the Chiefs, Crusaders and Hurricanes ‘ start their campaigns away from home.

The Chiefs face the Waratahs in Sydney, the Crusaders are up against champions Brumbies in a repeat of the 2004 final in Canberra while the Hurricanes play the Reds in Brisbane in week one.

New Zealand Rugby Union Chief Executive Chris Moller said the New Zealand derby in Dunedin was a magnificent way to start the season.

‘We are pleased that two of our top teams will be kicking off proceedings at home. The competition enters its 10th year in 2005 and it has developed into one of the most exciting tournaments in world rugby,’ Mr Moller said.

‘We are also delighted that Rebel Sport will once again be involved next year. They have made an invaluable contribution to the competition and provide an excellent fit with the Super 12 brand,’ Mr Moller added.

Highlights of the draw include a Week 2 match up in Christchurch between the Crusaders and Chiefs, the two New Zealand sides who made the play-offs in 2004.

Other games of interest include the derby in Auckland in Week 4 between 2003 finalists the Blues and Crusaders and Week 6 encounters involving the Hurricanes and Chiefs in Wellington and the Blues hosting the Brumbies in Auckland.

The last two weeks of round robin action sees back-to-back New Zealand derbies.

The Blues and Hurricanes kick off Week 11 on 6 May in Auckland while the Highlanders and Crusaders square off in Dunedin.

A week later four-time competition winners the Crusaders host the Hurricanes and the Chiefs are at home to the Highlanders.

The semi-finals are scheduled for 21-22 May with the final a week later on 28 May.

The Super 12 is expected to be expanded from 12 teams to 14 teams in 2006 so 2005 could be the last Super 12.

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