Super 18 is ‘bizarre, complicated & convoluted’

SANZAR’s proposed model for Super Rugby from 2016 has been slammed by fans across the board and one official in Australia has called it “bizarre, complicated & convoluted”.

Australian Rugby Union Boss Bill Pulver leaked details of a proposed format which makes little sense to fans who still struggle to understand the current format.

The new 18 team format lacks balance and integrity and on hearing the formula fans online have vowed to stop watching Super Rugby if the new format goes ahead in 2016.

SANZAR who manage Super Rugby on behalf of the South African, Australian and New Zealand Rugby Unions have agreed on a proposed format which will see the current 15 teams plus three more teams split between four conferences.

Instead of the current three geographically based conferences containing five teams each there will be four conferences.

The Australian and New Zealand Conferences will retain their five teams each but the five South African teams as well as the Southern Kings, and Argentine team and another team – possibly from Asia – will be split into two pools of four.

One of the South African conferences will play the teams in the New Zealand Conference and the other South African Conference will play the teams in the Australian Conference. This arrangement will be alternated year on year.

This means that four of the South African teams will not play the New Zealand teams for a whole year. For instance the Bulls will only play the Crusaders every second year.

The format has four of the South African teams only playing the Australian teams every second year.

Instead of playing the current 16 regular season matches teams would play 15 matches but due to the differences between the sizes of conferences one of the South African teams will have an easy qualification route to the play offs as each conference winner will be guaranteed a place in the play offs.

Currently teams play all of the teams in their own conference twice – on a home and away basis – and then four of the five teams in the Australian and New Zealand conferences.

Under the new proposed format the Australian teams would play two fewer local derbies but they would play against each of the NZ teams every year.

Australian Rugby is desperate for more money and the home and away derby matches brought in with the 2011 expansion deal have been a big boost to the Australian market. They will however each lose the gate money from one home derby match every year under the proposed format and Australia’s cash strapped franchises are not in the least bit happy with this.

Most of the broadcast money from the SANZAR deal is generated in South Africa as matches start in the morning and finish in the early evening. In comparison in Australia and New Zealand matches start in the early afternoon or evening and are played through the night. Many of these matches are not followed by fans in Australasia as they are in the middle of the night while in South Africa they are prime time viewing.

The new proposed format increases the number of matches per season from 125 to 142 and as South Africa will have two conferences SANZAR can sell more matches to broadcasters in the money making South African time zones.

ARU Boss Pulver said that the Super 18 format was a proposed format and that consideration was still being given to a vastly less complicated 17-match season in which every team plays every team.

This format was highly successful in the Super 12 and Super 14 but did lead to South African teams being on the road for up to six weeks. Teams would play every other team with home advantage being changed between the teams year on year.

While this format guarantees integrity as every team has an equal route to the final it does come with a cost to player welfare.

“One of the objectives we’re trying to achieve is player welfare so that we don’t have too much

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