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The Super Rugby final professional league playoffs of 2017 will occur August 5th when the Lions from South Africa meet the Crusaders from New Zealand at a sold out (60,000) Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg. New Zealand teams dominated the semi final round of the southern hemisphere league, qualifying three of the four teams. Only one of the five Australian sides (Brumbies) made it into the eight-team quarterfinal round.
The Crusaders have won seven of these SANZAAR titles before with four runners up results, a squad historically packed with All Black standouts. The Crusaders defeated two other New Zealand teams, the Highlanders 17-0, and the Chiefs 27-13 to make it into their twelfth title contest.
Super Rugby started the season with 18 teams, and will contract to 15 in 2018. Gone will be South Africa's Cheetahs and Southern Kings who will move to the European Pro 12 League in the upcoming season. Another Australian side will also be dropped but no teams have yet been designated. The two candidates are the Melbourne Rebels and the Western Force.
World Professional Leagues - Recap
Here's a review of the four leading professional rugby leagues.
Name Place Teams
Top 14 France 14
Premiership England 12
Pro 14 Wales, Ireland, 14
Super Rugby Australia, NZ, 15
The three European leagues play in a two annual championships: The European Rugby Championship (EPCR) for the top twenty sides, formerly known as the Heineken Cup. The secondary European Rugby Challenge Cup operates for the lower performing 18-teams, plus one Russian and one Romanian XV, formerly called the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Discussions are ongoing in the Pro 14 League to include two North American teams for the 2018/2019 season, one in the USA (Washington, DC) and one from Canada (Toronto or Vancouver).
Of note: the 2016 final of the EPCR was played in Barcelona's Camp Nou soccer stadium, generating 99,000 in attendance, the fourth largest rugby crowd of all time.