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NZRU disappointed with Sanzaar vote on Super Rugby finals

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New Zealand Rugby Union Chief Executive Steve Tew says that they were disappointed that they did not get support from their partners for the Super Rugby finals format.

The NZRU lobbied for a change to the way teams qualify for the Super Rugby finals but did not get support from Australia and South Africa so the much unloved format remains.

The current system awards Australia one team a home Super Rugby quarter-final and South Africa two teams regardless of whether they have more points than their opposition.

In 2016 the Highlanders finished with the third highest number of points but due to Sanzaar’s unloved and confusing format they were ranked fifth and had to travel to Canberra to play the Brumbies who had earned nine points less.

The New Zealand Rugby Union felt much in the same way as the majority of Super Rugby fans who wanted a finals qualification system based on points alone and not geography.

South Africa and Australia appear to have put their own interests before the integrity of the competition and did not back the change as it would mean that three of their teams would not be gauranteed home advantage.

The original idea of awarding a home play off to conference winners was to ensure that there was interest in all three founding partners home countries going into the play offs. However in 2016 despite being the only Australian team in the play offs and giving away free pies and parking interest in Australia was so low that the Brumbies could only sell around 9000 tickets in a 25 000 seater stadium.

Tew said that it was disappointing that the NZRU could not get the format change but that they would continue to lobby for change.

“It is disappointing that we couldn’t get agreement from South Africa and Australia,” he told NZ Newswire.

“We haven’t completely given up. We’ll keep plugging away because we think it makes a lot more sense for there to be a straight top eight, it makes it a lot easier for the fans who can disregard the conferences.”

Tew said that his Australian and South African counterparts argued that this year’s situation in which four New Zealand teams qualified for the play off was a one off and was unlikely to be repeated.

“You’ve got to have agreement at Sanzaar. That’s the beauty of a joint venture,” Tew said.

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