Fitzpatrick: Super 12 was best format

    2018-02-26 17:50

    Lloyd Burnard - Monaco

    Monaco - Former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick is pleased to see a change in Super Rugby format this year, but he believes that Super 12 was the best tournament structure.

    In an effort to grow the game and the competition, SANZAAR took the decision in 2016 to expand to 18 Super Rugby teams to accommodate the inclusion of Argentina's Jaguares, Japan's Sunwolves and South Africa's Kings. 

    With four Conferences and two Groups operating, the scheduling of the tournament and the log positions turned into a nightmare for organisers as well as fans. 

    That format operated in 2016 and 2017, but at the end of last year's season the decision was taken to scale down. 

    The Kings, Cheetahs and Western Force were all dumped. 

    It means that we are back to a more traditional structure of 15 teams playing across three Conferences of five teams each. 

    Former Blues hooker Fitzpatrick believes that going back to 15 teams was a no-brainer. 

    "I think they realised that 18 was wrong and good on them for changing that," Fitzpatrick said in Monaco at the Laureus World Sports Awards.

    "I always thought that Super 12 was the best where you played everyone, but let's see what happens."

    The Super 12 format operated for 11 years between 1995 and 2005 before a five-year stint of Super 14 until 2010.

    With the exception of the Lions, the South African sides have struggled to challenge the New Zealand sides in recent seasons. 

    The hope now is that, with only four South African teams participating, the quality will improve.

    "Last year all five of the New Zealand teams were very dominant," Fitzpatrick explained.

    "We need a competition that is a better reflection on the state of southern hemisphere rugby. The most competitive games are the ones that everyone wants to watch.

    "South Africa have a lot of players playing overseas and they need as much talent as they can get playing in the domestic competition. Hopefully they can do that with only four teams now."

    This past weekend, the Bulls provided major encouragement from a South African perspective when they beat the Hurricanes 21-19 at Loftus.

    *Lloyd Burnard is in Monaco as a guest of Laureus ...

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