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Super Rugby expansion revealed


Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Super Rugby on 2 May 2014 at 09:33
Tagged with : , , , , , , , ,

SANZAR has communicated the agreed format for a post-2015 Super Rugby competition that incorporates 18 teams, rather than the current 15. In this article, I’ll attempt to explain how the new system will work, while saving my comments on said system for a later article.

There are a huge number of changes to the existing format. Let’s attempt to summarise them here.

- Three extra teams will be added to the competition. New Zealand and Australia will each retain their existing five teams. The new teams will be the Southern Kings, a team from Argentina and an 18th team to be determined by a tender process. This 18th team could come from anywhere in the world, with Europe and Japan perhaps the most likely options.
- The existing conference model will be expanded. Again, the existing New Zealand and Australian conferences will remain unchanged (comprising five teams each), while the remaining eight teams will be divided into two “South African conferences” each containing four teams.
- The schedule of games to be played is now vastly different, with each team playing 15 regular season games (rather than the current 16). The formula determining who plays whom is convoluted to say the least:

In the Australian and New Zealand conference, each team will play a double round against two of the teams in their own conference (4 games) and a single round against the other two teams in their own conference (2 games). They will play a single round against all teams in the other non-South African conference (5 games) and a single round against all teams in one of the South African conferences (4 games). They will thus play no games at all against the other South African conference in that year.

In the South African conferences, each team will play a double round against all the teams in their own conference (6 games). They will play a single round against all the teams in the other South African conference (4 games) and a single round against all the teams in one of the non-South African conferences (5 games). Each team in a South African conference, will thus, in a given year, only play against Australian teams or only play against New Zealand teams.

- The competition will run over 17 rounds and each team will enjoy two byes. Since each team plays 15 matches, half of teams will benefit from an extra home match (8) than others (7) in a given season.
- The current “Finals Series” will be scrapped in favour of a straight three-round, eight-team knockout series. Winners of each conference will automatically advance and enjoy home-ground advantage in the quarter-finals. The other four teams will be drawn from the Australian/New Zealand conferences (3 teams) and the African conferences (1 team).

Obviously the South African conference participants still need to be finalised, but it is envisaged that tams will not ever change conferences once allocated, since this would then break the rotation model that would be necessary to ensure that each team plays each other over the course of a two-year cycle.

As a worked example, let’s assume the Sharks are drawn in South African Conference 1, which also includes the Stormers, the Southern Kings and the Argentine team. In 2016, they are drawn to play the Australian conference. This means they would face the following sample schedule:

Stormers (home and away)
Southern Kings (home and away)
Argentine XV (home and away)
Bulls (home)
Lions (away)
Cheetahs (home)
18th team (away)
Reds (home)
Rebels (home)
Waratahs (away)
Western Force (away)
Brumbies (away)

In 2017, it would then look something like:

Stormers (home and away)
Southern Kings (home and away)
Argentine XV (home and away)
Bulls (away)
Lions (home)
Cheetahs (away)
18th team (home)
Highlanders (home)
Hurricanes (home)
Chiefs (home)
Crusaders (away)
Blues (away)



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