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Super Rugby 2016 Draft Proposal

April 4, 2013 in Uncategorized

It is nearly time for SANZAR to decide on the Super Rugby structure for 2016 so let me do SARU’s work for them and put together a workable solution.

Accommodating both the Kings and the Lions in Super Rugby from 2016 will remain a problem under the current Super Rugby structure. New Zealand and Australia are looking to expand Super Rugby to Asia, the Pacific Islands and the Americas and changing the Super Rugby to a simple 16 team competition will also not work, in part because the Aussies want a Super Rugby conference that serves as a domestic competition and in part because it makes the conferences lob-sided. For South Africa and New Zealand the conference system can also be a blessing. Both countries have domestic competitions after Super Rugby but at the moment domestic teams are depleted of national players because the Rugby Championship (4 Nations) is also played after Super Rugby and overlaps with current domestic competitions.

This whole Kings/Lions issue as well as the issue of domestic competitions, i.e. Currie Cup, can be resolved quite easily by the tournament model I propose from 2016 when the new broadcast deal comes in.

So SARU should make work of it now and not wait till the last minute again.

  • From 2016 allow 6 teams per conference. This makes space for the Kings, a Pacific Island and an Argentinian team, one per conference. The conferences can even be expanded to 4 conferences once a sufficient number of franchises are established in the new regions.
  • Split the competitions into two divisions and the top three teams per conference after the 2015 season fall in the First Division and the bottom two plus the new teams in the Second Division.
  • Teams play interconference games within their divisions.
  • Teams play local derbies across divisions on a home and away basis.
  • Only points earned against teams in the same division earn points for the Division conference and combined logs.
  • Points earned in local derbies are added for a Domestic Conference log, which serves as the domestic competition.
  • At the end of the season the top team per First Division conference as well as the next three on the First Division combined log play off for semi final spots (same as the current play-offs). Alternatively the semis can be simply be played by the top 4 teams per devision, irrespective of conference.
  • There is no prize or trophy for topping the Second Division logs except to get an opportunity to play for promotion or an automatic promotion relegation can take place.
  • The bottom team per conference on the First Division log play promotion/relegation matches against the top team per conference on the Second Divsion log, if there is not automatic promotion/relegation.
  • The top 4 teams on the Domestic Conference log plays off for the Domestic Conference title.
  • All matches are broadcast and all teams share equally in the broadcast fees irrespective of division.
  • SA conference can serve as Currie Cup Premier Division.
  • Australia still has their “domestic” competition.

Example based on 2012 logs

First Division:

Australian Conference

New Zealand Conference

South African Conference

Second Division:

Australian Conference
Western Force
Argentinian team

New Zealand Conference
Pacific Islands

South African Conference

Interconference games per team: 6
Derbies x2: 10

Total regular season matches per team: 16

(Note: This article was originally published on my old blog in Feb 2012)

Local Derbies:

A lot of people complain about the local derbies but the fact is, they bring in the numbers, especially games against the Bulls, Sharks and Stormers:

Ave: 33562
Derbies: 38165

Free State:
Ave: 19244
Derbies: 22628

Ellis Park:
Ave: 23313
Derbies: 31568

King’s Park:
Ave: 26210
Derbies: 24271

Ave: 41919
Derbies: 45295

17 responses to Super Rugby 2016 Draft Proposal

  1. I like the proposal, but still feel that playing local derbies twice, does not make sense, I think that attendances at rugby matches have dropped because of this.
    I suggest that games to be played should be based on how the log finished the previous year, and strength versus strength, the top three teams from each conference, make up 3 pools a fourth pool then made up of next best three(from “2nd tier” as per your suggestion), they should play each other once.(11 games)
    At the end of the season, the top two teams in each pool go through to a “super rugby world cup” scenario, there is a draw, (for which pool plays each other)1st plays second from other pool and visa versa, that is the quarter finals, then semi final and final (3 games).
    HERE is the kicker ” each conference gets to host this Super rugby world cup, on a round robin basis ( every three years) each conference hosts a “super rugby world cup”
    This could be expanded at a later stage, to bringing in teams from other countries, that have won their respective competitions like the northern hemisphere, the Americas and Asia.
    I believe that the reduction in games each team plays will improve the quality of the game played(with less injuries) and we will have more games to watch, that will be better, supported.

    • The reason I stick with the double derbies is that they pull in the most crowds, especially in South Africa. Which is why I propose that the local conference become the Currie Cup Premier Division. The Currie Cup don’t pull in the crowds, except the semi finals and final, because it has become watered down with the Boks playing in the Rugby Championship. On the whole SARU needs to restructure the local rugby competitions.

  2. Let me say something unpopular because it is my opinion and as misguided as it may be I am entitled to it- The Lions have not inherent right to play super Rugby There is a fantastic franchise in Gauteng and I suggest you either support the bulls or like many other unions watch your team only in the currie cup.

    • It’s not about rights, although the Kings did demand inclusion as a right. The fact is we have six franchises in SA that need to be accommodated and the Lions and Bulls cover six unions and 49% of South Africa’s population so two franchises make sense. The Lions cover the southern half of the old Transvaal while the Bulls cover the northern half.

  3. Brilliant brilliant proposal! Did you draw it in crayon with big letters and pretty colourful pictures for the kindergarten class (read boardroom) at SARU? Or with a million rand cheque made out personally to ou Jurie? Thats the only way they understand or give attention to anything these days….

  4. I’ve proposed a similar structure before, see

    Have also added structures for how they can then expand to 24 and 32 teams (by adding in an American conference)

    • The problem with the current system is that it has become too big with diverse quality teams, making further expansion difficult, and it have become loaded with under-performing teams. Which is why I feel a two-tier system is necessary – it makes it easy to add new (weaker) teams without diluting the competitiveness of the top tier. A fourth conference can be added once there are sufficient teams to warrant it

  5. Very good idea, hope someone at SARU or SANZAR see this

  6. Hate to say this, but good post

  7. Great idea but unfortunately we are not the people who make the final decisions.

  8. How long did that take you? Well done mate! As another poster pointed out earlier, too much thought went into this for the SARU to understand and implement!

  9. Een van die beste voorstelle wat ek in n lang tyd gehoor het.Die relegasie games is sommer nonsense.Hoe teken n span spelers vir SRugby as hul net n 1 jaar kontrak kan waarborg?Die Kings verbaas my en sal beter raak hoe meer hul speel maar my hart is seer dat n streek/deel soos die Lions area nie SRugby speel nie.

  10. Just too much common sense for the muppets at SANZAR in that proposal.

  11. I don’t know if you seen the log but i am not sure that the Cheetahs would play in the second division.

    • As I said, the example is based on the log positions of 2012. Obviously for 2016 they would be based on the log of 2015

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