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Super 18: An international step up

Thu, 01 May 2014 08:28
Steve-tew-presser
Ensure Super Rugby continues to flourish
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Australia and New Zealand believe the Super Rugby revamp will benefit their national teams - the Wallabies and All Blacks.
 
Both the Aussies and Kiwis reacted positively to the conformation that from 2016 the competition will expand from 15 to 18 teams.
 
 
A refreshed Super Rugby competition offers the best chance to ensure a continued premier international provincial rugby competition according to New Zealand Rugby Union Chief Executive Steve Tew.
 
Tew is of the belief that the new structure has the right balance for players as well as fans.
 
“With a later start and one less match for each team in the competition, we believe we have got the balance right," Tew said 
 
“From a fans’ perspective, there will still be plenty of derbies to enjoy as well as top rugby from the best players in the world." 
 
Tew, alongside Australian counterpart Bill Pulver, the CEO of the Australian Rugby Union, believes the re-shaping will be a positive for the All Blacks and Wallabies respectively.
 
"We also believe we have a competition that will continue to feed a winning All Blacks team," Tew said.
 
Pulver, who was the one to spill the beans earlier than expected, echoed the NZRU boss' words: “It’s crucial for the long-term success of the Wallabies that we’re playing the best opposition in the world on a regular basis.
 
"This has been reinforced by the new model offering the Australasian Conference a guaranteed five of eight places in the Super Rugby Finals Series."
 
Both of the CEO's feel that this is the evolution of the competition in order to keep it viable to an increasingly competitive market for sports fans.
 
"Now we have a great opportunity to ensure Super Rugby continues to flourish in what is an increasingly competitive market for sports fans’ attention,” Tew said.
 
“We wanted Super Rugby to remain a competitive, entertaining and commercially viable competition, one players enjoy being part of and we think this structure ticks all those boxes.
 
“This is the best option to evolve what is already a fantastic competition and one that continues to deliver for fans, teams, players and sponsors.
 
Pulver chimed in with similar sentiments: “The international nature of Super Rugby makes it unique, It’s already one of the world’s most exciting provincial Rugby competitions.
 
"With the changes announced, it has the potential to become a truly global competition.”
 
The reaction coming from the Australasian Super Rugby teams also speaks positively of the change-up.
 
Chiefs Rugby Club Chairman Dallas Fisher said the changes were a natural evolution of the competition, while at the same time keeping the best elements of the existing format.
 
“We know that fans love the New Zealand derby matches so It’s great to see they have been retained.
 
"At the same time we know that innovations are important if we want to see Super Rugby grow.”
 
Crusaders Coach Todd Blackadder said:  “As a coach, we were looking for a competition that continues to offer a great playing environment and real competition.  
 
"Super Rugby is an outstanding competition, and It’s exciting to think that we’ll have new teams in the mix – but most importantly, we are keeping the number of matches and the length of the season manageable.”
 
Queensland Rugby CEO Jim Carmichael said the agreement between the Australian Super Rugby clubs follows months of discussions between stakeholders. 
 
“As a collective, we’ve reached an agreement, we’re confident this new Super Rugby competition structure represents the best interests of Australian Rugby.
 
"It incorporates all of the factors that need to be considered for a competition of this nature,” Carmichael said.
 
Waratahs CEO Jason Allen said: “Fans will be able to watch 15 more Super Rugby matches per season under the new competition and an expanded finals series, which has an additional two matches compared to the current finals structure.” 
 
SANZAR and its Member Unions, including the ARU, will now engage in further discussions with stakeholders and broadcasters in order to finalise all details of the competition. 
 
These include negotiations regarding commercial arrangements, draw and further details on the selection of the 18th team. 
 
Super Rugby expansion in 2016 - what it means:
 
The competition:
* Expanded competition to 18 teams from 2016 – South Africa 6th, Argentina, plus new team.
* Shorter competition – from 21 weeks to 20 weeks.
* All teams play one less match in a regular season – from 16 matches to 15.
* Four conferences playing in two regional Groups – South Africa and Australasia.
* The Australasia Group made up of two conferences – Australia (five teams) and New Zealand (five teams).
* South African Group made up of two conferences – South Africa 1 (three teams plus one from Argentina), and South Africa 2 (three teams plus the 18th team).
* Each team plays 15 regular season matches – eight home/seven away or vice versa every second year.
* A total 135 regular season matches and seven Finals Series matches (compared to 120 and five).
 
The Finals Series:
* Eight contenders, three weeks.
* Playoff format features an eight-team knock-out Finals Series playing in a quarters, semis and final format.
* Five teams qualify from the Australasia Group, three teams from the South Africa Group.
* All four conference winners automatically advance to Finals Series.
* The next three highest ranked teams in the Australasia Group and the next highest team in the South Africa Group, will make up the wildcard contenders, and also advance to the Finals Series.
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