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Goodbye Super 14.....hello Super 15 rugby

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Author Topic: Goodbye Super 14.....hello Super 15 rugby  (Read 619 times)
« on: May 20, 2009, 03:06:00 pm »

It's now Super 15 rugby

By TOBY ROBSON - The Dominion Post | Wednesday, 20 May 2008

SUPER 14 ERA: The Crusaders dominated Super 12, then Super 14. — STACY SQUIRES/The Press.

SUPER 14 ERA: The Crusaders dominated Super 12,
then Super 14. — STACY SQUIRES/The Press.

Super rugby just got bigger, longer and depending on your preferences, better, with the unveiling of a 24-week, three-conference Super 15 last night.

Local derbies, an expanded six-team playoff series, and an awkward three-week pause will be features of Sanzar's flagship competition when it launches in 2011.

The million-dollar question now is where the 15th team will come from, with a tender process being opened to all-comers.

With the extra team to play out of the Australian conference, Australia is the obvious base, with Melbourne and the Gold Coast already mooted as frontrunners.

However, NZRU chief executive Steve Tew said entry was open to all and, while "unlikely", he didn't rule out a sixth New Zealand side.

"We will discuss it with our unions, but you have to ask is there enough depth and do we have the finances to have another team?

"There is obviously significant interest from South Africa, as well as three or four Australian cities, and maybe Japan and the Pacific Islands and who knows, maybe New Zealand as well."

Sanzar would need to make a unanimous decision, which Tew anticipated as being an "interesting process". The NZRU was not interested in farming out players to prop up a new team, he said.

Regardless of how rugby's ‘menage a trois’ pans out, it is a generally pleasing outcome for all.

After months of squabbling, rugby bosses from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia officially reached a compromise yesterday, announcing the competition that will begin in late February and run till the first week of August.

Sanzar will present their blueprint to broadcasters next month, hoping they have done enough to seal a deal for at least five years.

The upside for Kiwi fans is that the country's five franchises will play each other annually on a home and away basis, making up half of their 16 regular season matches.

With teams divided into three national conferences, the other eight matches will be against four of the five sides from each of the other two conferences. The playoffs will then feature the three conference winners, plus three "wildcard" teams with the highest number of competition points.

Two conference champions with the most points will go straight to the semifinals, while the third side will join the wildcards in an elimination round for the last two spots.

While that is an exciting move forward, the three-week bye (about three weeks before the playoffs) that sees the tournament suspended during the international June test-match window is less enticing. New Zealand lobbied for a "slowdown" period, but South Africa's franchises refused to play matches unless at full strength.

Tew said compromises had been made on all sides. New Zealand had given up a week in August, while South Africa yielded a week in February.



• Regular season matches per team increase from 13 to 16.

• Regular season home matches per team increase from six or seven to eight.

• Regular season away matches per team increase from six or seven to eight.

• Total number of regular season matches increasae from 91 to 120.

• Playoffs format changes from top four teams over two weeks to six teams over three weeks.

• Number of playoff matches increase from three to five.

• Number of playoff matches guaranteed per country will be one.

• Byes per team will change from the current one to two in Rugby World Cup year and five in a standard year.

• Total competition length increases from current 16 to 21 in Rugby World Cup year and 24 for a standard year.

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