New Super Rugby format good for SA
Cape Town - South Africa may not be in the best place when it comes to Super Rugby, but looking ahead to next season’s new expanded format there is reason for renewed hope.
The new format means that 18 teams will slug it out for the title, and as we all know the Kings will join new sides from Argentina and Japan as the extra three franchises. But what does this all mean for South Africa?
Fixtures are yet to be confirmed, but a glance at next year’s setup suggests that South Africa should comfortably have three teams in the quarter-final stage of the tournament. This is if we are to presume that at least three South African sides will fare better than the Japanese and Argentinean newcomers.
The 18 sides are divided into two Groups and four Conferences. The Australian and New Zealand Conferences stay the same, while the other two Conferences will be made up of four teams each – three SA sides and an Argentinean/Japanese side.
The Australian and New Zealand Conferences combine to make up a 10-team Australasian Group, while the two SA Conferences – including the Japanese and Argentinean franchises – make up the eight-team South African Group.
It’s all a bit complicated, and an exact breakdown of how things work can be seen on the SANZAR site.
But, long story short, the four Conference winners will host the quarter-finals and it is hard to see the Japanese or Argentinean franchises topping either of the SA Conferences in their opening season. That would immediately put two SA sides at home in the quarters, while a wildcard place will be given to the next best placed side in the South African Group. Again, one would expect this position to go to a local side above the newcomers.
That would mean that South Africa takes three of the eight quarter-final places in the competition, compared to this year when the Stormers were our lone representatives in the playoffs.
Outgoing Stormers boss Allister Coetzee isn’t quite sure what to make of the new format, but thinks that we should view it positively.
"It has been a good product over the years. People will always have their negatives but I think the positives far outweigh the negatives," said Coetzee.
"People are stuck to their television sets every weekend. It comes with challenges every year and I can’t say that the new system won’t work. It’s going to be a completely different thing … it’s going to be exciting.
"It’s never going to take the competitiveness out of the thing. The product will still be good. Give it a chance. I’d like one to positive and give it a chance and then we can evaluate again."