SANZAR in a 'fixtures minefield'

Tue, 18 Feb 2014 13:49
Large stormers huddle

To bye or not to bye? That is the question! Jan de Koning chatted, exclusively, to SANZAR boss Greg Peters about the vexed issue of byes.

To bye or not to bye? That is the question! This coarse version of the famous opening phrase of a scene in a William Shakespeare play aptly describes SANZAR's fixtures predicament.

The Super Rugby season kicked of last weekend, with the Stormers having a bye in the opening week for a second successive season.

It naturally caused a stir in the Western Cape region. Some fans were indignant in their views of the situation.

So this website asked SANZAR CEO Greg Peters about the process that saw them arrive at this juncture, about the difficulties that lead to setting up fixtures and how the byes are allocated.

In this exclusive interview Peters pointed out that there are "numerous factors" that go into determining a professional sporting draw and Super Rugby's situation is further complicated by the "tyranny of distance" - the significant logistical and player welfare issues that it presents.

"Whilst it might appear straightforward to fans it is in fact  a very complex process that takes some months to complete," Peters told this website.

"In reality we are working with 21 different stakeholders - three national unions [South Africa, New Zealand and Australia], 15 teams and three broadcasters.

"Each one has their own criteria that results in the complexity when factoring them into the overall draw design principles."

This website posed a series of questions to Peters, hoping to enlighten our readers!

Question: How difficult does the uneven numbers (15 teams) make fixture allocation?
Answer: Our draw is dictated by a number of fundamental factors including the allowance of four weeks for travel to and from South Africa for SA teams, broadcaster requests for five local derbies, stadium blackout dates, team preferences and draw design rules such as one regular season crossing of the Indian Ocean and two byes per team.

Q: Does the conference system aid/complicate fixture allocation?
A: The conference system  poses some challenges, but it also offers more flexibility than a round robin format when it comes to devising the draw.

Q: How or who decides which teams get byes in the opening week (given the Stormers have had a bye in Week One last year and this year)?
A: The opening round bye is normally allocated on a rotational basis between the three countries, but with the South Africa Conference starting one week early this year, following a request from SARU due to a scheduling conflict with SA's June inbound dates, one SA team obviously had to have a bye in Round One. This was issued at random to the Stormers.

Q: What is the input of franchises when it comes to fixtures and byes?
A: SANZAR works closely with the National Unions and by extension - the franchises - before finalising the schedule. While teams don't have input into the allocation of byes, they certainly lodge preferences for kick-off times, stadium blackout dates etc. and we do our best to accommodate them where possible.

By Jan de Koning

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Thu, 23 February 2017
Rebels v Blues 08h45 Melbourne
Fri, 24 February 2017
Highlanders v Chiefs 06h35 Dunedin
Reds v Sharks 09h00 Brisbane
Harlequins v Leicester Tigers 17h45 Twickenham Stoop
Edinburgh v Cardiff Blues 19h05 Myreside
Dragons v Leinster 19h30 Rodney Parade
Munster v Scarlets 19h35 Thomond Park
Sat, 25 February 2017
Sunwolves v Hurricanes 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Brumbies 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Force 08h45 Allianz Park
Saracens v Sale Sharks 12h45 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Franklin's Gardens
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons 13h00 Sandy Park
Cheetahs v Lions 13h05 Bloemfontein
Scotland v Wales 14h25 BT Murrayfield
Kings v Jaguares 15h15 Port Elizabeth
Ireland v France 16h50 Aviva Stadium
Stormers v Bulls 17h30 Cape Town
Sun, 26 February 2017
Bristol v Bath 11h00 Ashton Gate
Zebre v Ulster 12h30 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Wasps v Gloucester 12h30 Ricoh Arena
Treviso v Connacht 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
Ospreys v Glasgow Warriors 13h05 Liberty Stadium
England v Italy 15h00 Twickenham Stadium
Mon, 27 February 2017
UCT-Ikeys v Maties 14h45 Cape Town
CUT-Ixias v UJ 16h30 Bloemfontein
Rhodes v Fort Hare 16h30 Grahamstown
CPUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Cape Town
UWC v TUT 16h30 Cape Town
UP-Tuks v Wits 16h30 Pretoria
Shimlas v NWU-Pukke 17h00 Bloemfontein
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 10 0 5 43
Waratahs 15 8 0 7 40
Rebels 15 7 0 8 31
Reds 15 3 1 11 17
Force 15 2 0 13 13
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 15 11 0 4 53
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 52
Chiefs 15 11 0 4 51
Crusaders 15 11 0 4 50
Blues 15 8 1 6 39
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 1 4 51
Bulls 15 9 1 5 42
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Sunwolves 15 1 1 13 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 14 11 0 3 52
Sharks 15 9 1 5 43
Jaguares 14 3 0 11 18
Kings 15 2 0 13 9