Super Rugby refers to the largest professional rugby union in the southern hemisphere. It was not a one-off foundation, but Super Rugby is built on a series of old traditions dating back to the 1986 South Pacific Championship. Getting a stable and consistent championship format has proven difficult, but with the time it eventually became the modern form of Super Rugby which included 15 teams from three countries: Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.
Prior to the current Super Rugby model, there were several small attempts to create a unified professional rugby competition to help determine an annual world champion for the region. In 1991, there was no tournament due to the cancellation of the South Pacific tournament. This led to the creation of the Super 6.
The Super 6 was made up of three teams from New Zealand, two from Australia and one from Fiji and contested a championship in 1992, won by the Brisbane Reds. The following year, interest led to rapid expansion with the Super 6 becoming the Super 10.
The Super 10 still featured several teams from Australia and New Zealand, but South Africa was re-admitted to international competition with three teams including the Lions who ultimately won this season. Fiji has been replaced by Western Samoa as the representative of the United Nations. This format lasted for three years, with the Reds again taking the last two until 1996 when they grew to 12 teams.
True to the number of themes, this competition became the Super 12 and it lasted until 2005. This also marked an important moment with the founding of SANZAR (South African, New Zealand and Australian rugby) as a governing body to manage the competition, set up how to play off tournaments would be done, and expansion if necessary.
The Australian and New Zealand teams dominated during this period, winning all titles from 1996 to 2005, with the Blues, Brumbies and Crusaders combining for all championships in this period. In 2006 the expansion was made to Super 14 and in 2007 the Pretoria, South Africa Bulls shattered Australia-New Zealand dominance by ending the season as champions.
The year 2009 saw the expansion to 15 teams under the current name of Super Rugby, removing the numbers and now unified under one brand. The old round robin method has been removed in favor of home and away games based on a regional format, with points based on wins, losses, ties and bonus points based on scores overall and the number of tries scored in a match. six teams at the end of the season then play in a three-week series of finals with standings based on the overall standings.
This allows for a setup where the best teams can still play while still making every game important. Due to the popularity of Super Rugby, there are talks for future expansion, including talks of more Australian and South African teams, as well as possibly a team from the Pacific Islands or Argentina.