SANZAAR tweaks Super Rugby semi-final process
Cape Town - SANZAAR has tweaked the process by which the semi-final match-ups for this year's Super Rugby tournament will be determined.
However, as was the case in 2016 the teams winning spots in the quarter-finals will be: the four Conference winners - who will host the quarter-final matches; and four wildcard teams - determined by the final conference positions.
The teams will be ranked 1-8 based on the final number of competition points attained and the following order:
Rank 1-4: Conference winners determined by final number of competition points
Rank 5-8: Wildcards determined by final number of competition points
The quarter-final draw will be:
Quarter-final 1: 1 v 8
Quarter-final 2: 2 v 7
Quarter-final 3: 3 v 6
Quarter-final 4: 4 v 5
In a change from 2016, the semi-final draw will be pre-determined. The two semi-final hosts will be the highest ranked winners from the respective quarter-finals.
Semi-final 1: Winner QF 1 v Winner QF 4
Semi-final 2: Winner QF 2 v Winner QF 3
In last year's tournament, although the quarter-final draw was the same, when it came to the semi-finals, the lowest seed hosted the highest seeded team to qualify, while the second-lowest seed played host to the second-highest seed.
By way of a reminder, this is how 2016's quarter-finals played out (winners in bold):
Hurricanes (1) v Sharks (8)
Lions (2) v Crusaders (7)
Stormers (3) v Chiefs (6)
Brumbies (4) v Highlanders (5)
As was the structure in 2016, the Hurricanes hosted the Chiefs in the first semi-final, while the Lions welcomed the Highlanders to Ellis Park.
However, by 2017 changes, the Hurricanes would host the Highlanders, while the Lions would play the Chiefs.
A subtle, yet potentially tournament defining change.