The 18 teams are arranged in four conferences.
The season comprises 135 regular season matches played across 17 rounds. After the regular season an eight-team, three-week, seven-match finals series will determine the overall winner.
Competition points will be awarded in all Regular Season matches on the following basis:
* Win: Four points
* Draw: Two points
* Loss: Nil points for a loss by eight or more points
* Bonus: One point for a loss between one to seven points
* Bonus: One point for scoring three or more tries more than the opponent
* Bye: Nil points
Regular Season Pool Matches (two-year rotation)
* Each team plays 15 matches (and has two byes).
* Each team will play six matches within its Conference
* Each team will play nine matches against other Conference teams
* Each team has eight home matches and seven away matches (these will alternate over the two-year rotational draw cycle)
* Internal and cross conference opposition will also ‘swap’ over the two-year draw cycle.
How to qualify for the play-offs
* Win Conference – four conference winners (will host quarterfinal)
* Earn a wildcard place – four wildcard places available
* Best placed runner-up team (based on tournament points) from either Africa 1 or Africa 2 Conference
* Three next best teams (based on tournament points) from either the New Zealand or Australian Conferences
Tie Breaking Rules:
In the event two or more teams are equal on tournament points for any position in their respective conference at end of regular season, the following will apply to determine final conference positions:
* Most wins from all matches;
* Highest aggregate points difference from all matches;
* Most tries from all matches;
* Highest aggregate difference of total tries for versus tries scored against from all matches;
* Coin toss.
The teams winning places in the Finals (Conference winners and wild cards) will be ranked one to eight based on the final number of competition points attained and the following order.
Quarterfinal One: One v Eight
Quarterfinal Two: Two v Seven
Quarterfinal Three: Three v Six
Quarterfinal Four: Four v Five
Rank One to four: Conference winners - rank determined by final number competition points
Rank Five to eight: Wild card rankings determined by final number competition points
Semifinal One: Winner Quarterfinal One v Winner Quarterfinal Four
Semifinal Two: Winner Quarterfinal Two v Winner Quarterfinal Three
Winner Semifinal One v Winner Semifinal Two
Finals Matches- Tie-breaking Criteria:
If the teams are tied at full-time in any Finals Series Match then the following will apply until a winner is found:
* Extra Time: played in two 10 minute periods with a two-minute half-time
* Sudden Death: played for up to 10 minutes with the first team to score declared the winner
* Kicking Competition