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Crusaders and Hurricanes to push for Super Rugby change

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Bosses from the Crusaders and the Hurricanes will both push for changes to the Super Rugby format next week at a Sanzaar meeting in Sydney.

Super Rugby administrators Sanzaar will host the CEO’s and head coaches from all 18 Super Rugby teams in Sydney where the current format will be reviewed.

Sanzaar’s Super18 format has been hugely unpopular with the fans who have turned away in their millions on TV and in the stadiums.

Attendances at matches have been dropping for the last decade but the absence of quality and abundance of matches this season has accelerated the decline.

At least two of the 18 teams have had to have financial bailouts by their national unions and more could follow as the interest in Super Rugby continues it’s decline.

The organising body have appointed consultancy firm Accenture who according to reports have put forward scenarios of further expansion as well as a reduction in teams.

Former Sanzar and NZRugby boss David Moffett says that the organisers have chased quantity over quality which has driven fans away. Like countless fans Moffett has also slammed Sanzaar confusing format.

This season’s Crusaders head coach Todd Blackadder also slammed the format which saw teams with fewer points earned through the season hosting teams that had earned more points through the season.

Sanzaar tried to defend the format in the run up to the play offs but this achieved little and the calls for a format which sees every team play the other have only grown.

There is also wide support for a fairer play off qualification process where teams that finish with the most points at the end of the regular season are rewarded with a home play off.

Crusaders chief executive Hamish Riach will lobby Sanzaar for a friendlier Super Rugby format and a review of the the way the competition’s table is displayed.

“To me the conference system is only about how you qualify for the play-offs,” Riach told Stuff.

“Continuing to show teams throughout the competition in their conference makes little sense to me. Just show the competition table, and the top eight is the top eight.

“It actually only has meaning as a means of calculating the playoffs. So that’s something we will be pushing for.”

Hurricanes chief executive Avan Lee also wants changes to the format in particular his organisation wants change to the play off qualification structure.

Under the current format the Brumbies were awarded home quarterfinals even though did not earn enough points to be in the top four without factoring in the group and conference tables.

The Brumbies finished with 43 points but hosted the Highlanders who finished with 52 points.

Playing at home in a knock out match means much more than home advantage as it also means the team gets the revenue from ticket sales outside of the regular season. It also means less travel for fatigued players at the end of the season.

Lee’s Hurricanes were fortunate enough to play all of their home matches in Wellington but this is unlikely to happen again in 2017 as the Lions are not expected to play the New Zealand teams next season so they should finish on top of the standings if they can maintain their 2016 form into 2017.

“We went to Christchurch [and beat the Crusaders] and to be honest even the staunchest Hurricanes fan wouldn’t have predicted the fact that we’d come away from that weekend as the top qualifier,” Lee told Stuff.

“From my perspective, is there a better way of doing it? Perhaps the top-four teams, regardless of country or conference, should host a quarterfinal? I wonder if that’s a fairer system,” said Lee.

“The New Zealand conference will be exceptionally good next year. I think even better than this year and it’s tough to get out of that conference, let alone even make the final,” he said.

“There’s a lot of very good rugby teams that will keep anyone on their toes and we’re just focused on what we need to do to get ourselves back amongst the top teams.”

Crusaders Boss Riach is also no fan of the current play off system and the way home games are awarded.

“Who gets the right to host those games? Is there a better way than what we saw this year?” Riach said. “Those are areas we are very interested in exploring.”

“In the end we would like to see the competition easily understood, and to have integrity,” Riach noted.

“There was enough comment around the current set-up to see if there is a better way.”

Our thoughts. 

A simple format re jig that we would like to see at SuperXV is for the 18 teams to be divided into three conferences of six teams (for scheduling purposes only).

Teams play five of the six teams in the conferences and alphabetically rotate the sixth team. Everyone plays everyone and home advantage is rotated annually.

This would mean 15 matches (as it is now) with two byes (as it is now) over 17 Rounds.

The teams that finish in the top eight in the standings qualify for the play offs.

Let us know your thoughts below.

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17 Comments

  1. Mike

    8th September 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Just keep it simple and let everyone play one another once. Home and away should vary from season to season. Means 17 games and then finals take the top teams and let them contest for the cup.

    • Daniel

      8th September 2016 at 4:13 pm

      Agreed Mike,

      I personally favour every team playing each other once. Then the top 8 qualify on merit. However, I think the current play off advantage for each team (home advantage) is too great. The final should be played at a neutral venue, but how to achieve this with the teams spread so distantly a part? Maybe draw the venue pre-season? I would favour a draw system like they have in the European football championship, where the 8 teams are drawn out of a bag. I don’t believe the semi-finalist teams should have a referee from either country involved. The referee should be from Asia or South America, but definitely neutral.

      • Mike

        9th September 2016 at 7:11 am

        Neutral venues for finals, great idea! Can’t agree more!

  2. Scott

    8th September 2016 at 6:49 pm

    How do S.A teams get a season without playing NZ teams?

    There’s currently 4 conferences, so, each team plays a game against 3 teams from all the other conferences (9 so far for those counting) then against all the rest of their own conference, 3 home and 3 away, sure this email means that Aus/NZ won’t play all their own teams twice, but I see it as ghetto fairest way so that there’s no team advantaged by not playing an entire conference.

    As for who plays who, I’m sure someone could work out the draws.

  3. Andre de Waal

    8th September 2016 at 7:55 pm

    I would suggest splitting the competition into three Tiers (Premiership, Championship and Development) with 8 teams in each division. This would require six new teams to join the Development Division (North America, Pacific Islands, Asia, Europe, South America, NEwhere)

    Essentially each team would play the others in the same division (home and away) and the end of the season, the top 4 of the Premiership would contest the Semi’s and then Grand Final. The same weekend as the Semi Finals The bottom three would play promotion/relegation matches between the top three of the Championship.

    In fact I would say that 8th place in the Premiership is relegated and replaced by 1st place in the Championship. 7th place in the Premiership should play a promotion/relegation match at the home of the 2nd place in the Championship. 6th place in the Premiership should play a promotion/relegation match at their Home against 3rd place in the Championship. The bottom three of the Championship, would do the same with the top three of the Development division. The bottom of the Development division can play any new teams that wanted to join the tournament after going through a tender process (?)

    This way the need to tap into new markets is built into the format, while still maintaining the Quality vs Quality aspect that fans are crying out for. Giving teams that are lower on the log something to play for would also add to the excitement/viewership numbers.

    • Martin Coetzee

      9th September 2016 at 12:14 am

      Andre I think your idea is outstanding but I don’t think it is financially supportable. The lower teams in the Premiership and Championship just won’t make enough money to survive. The travel costs will be too high and their won’t be that much interest from Broadcasters to buy into that format. It is the best though in the sense that that is how it should work as it absolutely rewards performance while still including everyone.

      • Andre de Waal

        14th September 2016 at 10:46 am

        Martin and Aidan, thanks very much for the kind feedback. I’m of the opinion that the only logical way to stop the player drain to Europe and compete against the Pound/Euro is to get the US Dollar involved ASAP. The fanbase is definitely there and the sheer size of the country means that while they may not be competitive at the moment it won’t take long before they are. Either way the financial gain for Souther Hempisphere teams playing US teams is obvious and the Tiered system is the only way to keep the competition interesting and keep the fans watching, I can’t really see another way? Promotion/Relegation works brilliantly in the English Premier League and keeps the competition fresh.

    • Aidan

      9th September 2016 at 3:05 am

      This actually sounds great Andre but I can’t see it happening. The game is too political and as it is currently, 8 teams would probably have 5 New Zealand teams which would never fly with the Australian or South African conferences

  4. Martin Coetzee

    9th September 2016 at 12:07 am

    You suggestion at the end of the article does not deal with one of the two issues: too much rugby.

    Too many trivial games. Solution: brexit the following teams – The Cheetahs, The Kings, The Jaguares, The Sunwolves, The Rebels and the Force. The “Super 18” return to the Super 12. If people feel strongly enough we can jettison one NZ team too but which one? It would probably have to be the Chiefs as they are close enough to be a “catchment area” for the Blues.

    After that we play a full round robin (12 rounds) and quarters (so 8 of the 12 teams play in the playoffs which is quite inclusive), semis and final with highest ranked teams on the un-manipulated log hosting their playoff matches. Simple, you don’t need any complicated charts or graphics to explain to someone how it works. Less rugby, more quality. Fans will be happy and return to see the spectacle. SANZAR (no more SANZAAR) will make more money with less logistical costs.

  5. navumaga

    9th September 2016 at 5:00 am

    This can truely be a great competition if it is run correctly. It has the best players in the world and it’s fast and furious with impact and skills on show week in week out. There needs to be changes however as the current format is simply terrible.

    Australian sides to either hand back one or two franchises along with maybe one from South Africa maybe have some kind of relegation. Each team much play each team once and the South Africans have to let go of the guarantee of one of their franchises is hosting a final. It’s survival of the fittest and only the best teams play finals – teams like the brumbies should never be hosting a team that had greater wins and points.

    For too long the competition has been changed to suit the under performers or the weak. It’s time it’s about the performance on the park and the quality opposition which generates bums in seats at the game and pay tv rights which is what this is all about. I love super rugby but I’m not going to watch the rebals play the force or kings. I’d rather watch my local side run about down the park. But if I could watch the lions vs the Hurricanes or the crusaders playing the highlanders – that’s entirely different and something I wanna see. Quality not crappy quantity.

  6. Craig

    9th September 2016 at 5:06 am

    I would love too see it kept as 18 teams as I believe this is great too develop the game in Argentina and Japan. I still think it should be play every team once like it used too be. The Stormers coach even said they were disappointed that they didn’t get too test themselves against the NZ teams. I am not a big fan of Rugby League but I do love there points system in the NRL. 2 points for a win and nothing if you lose and 1 for a draw. While I have all ways enjoyed the bonus point system in Super Rugby having a straight 2 or nothing doesn’t get the teams so far apart on the points table. They have teams who have won less than half their games still with a chance of getting into the play offs with a month or so too go and if they win every game after that they will probably get 7th or 8th. With Super Rugby the play off teams can be decided very early on and the other teams get too far behind too catch up. With only 2 points for a win and nothing else as soon as you lose you can drop down the table very quickly.

  7. Mike

    9th September 2016 at 7:14 am

    Another thing I would love is for Super rugby go back to the way it was, with your best 5 Currie Cup teams qualify for Super Rugby and the same with NZ and Aus Teams. Obviously the Argentinian team and Sunwolves can’t change that much. That would put the strength back in Currie Cup too. Currie Cup now is a useless tournament…

  8. Jay

    9th September 2016 at 9:53 am

    Get rid of the Kings and the Force immediately. Just because Perth is a convenient stopover and some corrupt ‘officials’ need to make money out of Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium doesn’t mean the rest of us in the world have to suffer. Then talk about what’s next.

    • Todd

      9th September 2016 at 6:35 pm

      Hello all.
      I believe everyone should play everyone so 17 games. If that means a Wednesday game while on tour so be it, the squads are big enough to support resting the top players from time to time. In fact for player welfare it could be made mandatory that players have 15 game maximum. I support expansion as it is currently with the sunwolves and jaguares, to cut them so soon would be ludicrous and insulting. They are future focused concept even if not there yet. I don’t agree with the post about neutral venues for play offs. A home venue playoff is an incentive and reward for excellence.
      For all its imperfections it is still the best competition in the world!

  9. John

    9th September 2016 at 2:04 pm

    Get rid of sa, no one watches there games outside of Africa, make an expanded version of the box with Australian, Japanese, and Argentina

  10. Ho Thai Kin

    10th September 2016 at 1:14 am

    Get rid of the Kings & Sunwolves, reduce it to 16 teams, as it should be Southern Hemisphere competition. South Africa should maintain at 5 teams only, same with Australia and NZ. Also scrap the conference system. Everyone just play each other, 15 matches with 2 byes over 17 Rounds. Top eight in the standings qualify for the play offs.

  11. Max

    10th September 2016 at 10:18 pm

    No competition in the world has top teams only. To compete with a better team is healthy and allow to lower quality teams to develop and get better. That is why the groups rounds exist . Not everything in sports is a matter of show bussiness. I like To watch how a team improve and get better. And for all the teams, to get the palyoffs is the reward. However, there aré some things to change about the qualifying system. The best 8 have to get the palyoffs.

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