Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - One of the most controversial facets of Vodacom Super Rugby may be scrapped when the Southern Hemisphere undergoes its review at the end of the season.
Controlling body SANZAR has indicated that the format that gives teams four points for a bye is under review and if found to be detrimental to the competition’s attracting power, may well be scrapped.
Also under review is the system whereby South African teams will have an enforced first round bye due to the competition’s draw, with the organising body looking to share it between all three nations in future.
The four-point rule has been a source of confusion and consternation among fans, especially in the opening few weeks of Super Rugby where it made the log look incomplete or wrong as the amount of games didn’t always tally with team points.
SANZAR Ceo Greg Peters told SuperSport.com that he was generally happy with the way the competition had gone in its first year of conference rugby and 15 teams, but there were always small changes that could be made to make the competition better.
One of these that was being looked at, was possibly scrapping the four point rule and reverting to the old system that a team scores no points for a bye.
“We sold the format to broadcasters for a five year period, so there will not be major changes to the structure,” Peters told SuperSport.com, “But in terms of the four points for a bye, we will be looking at it again as there seems to be some confusion among fans. We will investigate and decide whether it is worthwhile to be continuing with it.”
“It is a new innovation and we’ve accepted it, but we can look at it again. One of the problems we are finding with it, is that in Australia and New Zealand in particular, we are not seeing the full competition table being reported.
“It is important from a fan perspective to understand the new format that the full competition table also be reported so that they can see who the conference winners will be and who the wildcard playoff qualifiers are.”
Peters added that there was some unhappiness at the draw, especially as it seemed South African sides would have to share the first round bye, which critics have slated for the way it makes one team start the competition later. “It is also something we are looking at, we think that it may be a fairer system to share things around between the three countries. It is difficult because with 15 teams you have to have one team having a bye in round one of the competition.
“Next year we also have the complication of the competition taking a break for three weeks in June and trying to accommodate the byes that fall around that period. That in itself isn’t easy. We are looking at the option of sharing that first round bye between the conferences.”
Peters said he was generally happy with the format, which will reach a crescendo as teams vie for playoff spots in the next few weeks.
“Generally across all the conferences we have seen strong crowds for the local derbies and in general South Africa has had strong crowds and high interests for some of the bigger teams. South Africa holds the record for the best crowd - the Stormers v Crusaders game with 48 300, which just shaded the Reds v Crusaders, which had 48 200.
“The strength and intensity of the local derby games has been generally positive across all three countries and we will be heading to all three countries in the next few weeks to ascertain how the various franchises have felt about the competition thus far.”