-- For the first time ever Super Rugby will be hosting Thursday night rugby matches with the Melbourne Rebels and Blues set to kick off the season by making Super Rugby history.
SANZAAR announced their 2017 playing schedule on Tuesday with the governing body announcing the bold strategy which is certainly a move to counteract the popularity of the NRL's and AFL's Thursday night matches.
The opening round Thursday game will be followed by a round two Thursday clash which will see the Western Force host the Queensland Reds.
Kicking off on Thursday February 23, we will see three full rounds to start the season with SANZAAR sticking the same conference system of 2016 with 135 regular season matches and an eight-team, seven match finals series.
SANZAAR CEO, Andy Marinos, stated, "The new season is set to be another enthralling, action-packed one as we enter the second year of the 18-team conference-style tournament.
"The tournament saw some fantastic rugby last year and we look forward in particular to the continued development of the new franchises that added exciting new territories and colour to the tournament.
"The schedule will see four Sunwolves matches played in Tokyo and three matches in Singapore, while eight matches will be hosted by the Jaguares in Buenos Aires. Both these teams made their Super Rugby debuts in 2016, with the Kings from South Africa returning after their brief spell in 2013."
As in 2016 each team will play six matches within its own conference and nine matches against other conference teams playing a total 15 round matches with two bye games.
The June Test window will see a change in fixtures in early June and July with just the one game between the Hurricanes and Chiefs to be played in Round 16, while Round 15 in early July will see only the South African conferences playing to accommodate the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.