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Keeping all the balls in the Air…literally

HomeNews hubIndustry insightsKeeping all the balls in the Air…literally

127 matches, 7 countries, 16 time zones and over 500 travellers - as travel planning goes, it doesn’t come much more complicated than that. Throw in the need for nutritionist-approved meals at hotels and literally a tonne of gear for each travelling team and you have one of Stage and Screen’s most exciting clients.

Based in Sydney, SANZAAR (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina Rugby) is the body which operates Super Rugby and The Rugby Championship international rugby union competitions.

The Super Rugby season runs for almost five months and in 2019 the teams will play home and away games across Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Tokyo, Singapore and Fiji – with the international trips lasting two to three weeks at a time. With the players and support staff the teams on average consist of 35 people including nutritionists, physiotherapists, medical staff, team managers and coaches.

While this year’s season kicked off on 15 February the travel planning started in April 2018, with arrangements locked in by November. With the 35-people teams flying Business Class on long haul flights, booking as early as possible allows Stage and Screen to negotiate the best possible fares with SANZAAR’s main airline partners - Qantas, Air New Zealand, SAA (South African Airways) and Latam Airlines.

On the ground arrangements are no less complicated, with the professional athletes having a long list of specific hotel requirements. As a result, all accommodation is booked with their two hotel group partners - IHG hotel group and Tsogo Sun. Arrangements include Stage and Screen and a SANZAAR nutritionist collaborating with the hotel kitchens, to lock in healthy set menus for players during their stay. The hotels also provide access to three dedicated team rooms – for medical staff and massages, meetings and video presentations.

However a lot can go pear shaped when you’re moving several hundred people around the world for away games on a weekly basis. Especially when player injuries go with the territory. At least once a fortnight Stage and Screen are called in to arrange last minute flights for fresh players or to retrieve injured ones. A task complicated by a competition that spans 16 time zones, meaning the Stage and Screen after hours team get a pretty good workout too!

Just some of the cities where the 2019 matches will be played, apart from Australia, include Buenos Aires, Christchurch, Singapore, Tokyo, Cape Town, Pretoria, Johannesburg, Wellington, Dunedin and Suva.

Super Rugby Fast Facts:

  • Season runs from February 15 - June 17, 2019.
  • Qualifying finals June 22, Grand Final July 6.
  • 15 teams play across 7 countries.
  • There are three conferences –Australia, New Zealand and South Africa- with five teams each.
  • Japan joins Australian conference and Argentina joins South Africa.
  • 120 matches make up the regular season