New twist to Super Rugby

Tue, 20 Sep 2016 07:48
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NEWS: Not only does the complicated, unpopular and confusing Super Rugby format stay in place for 2017, it has a new twist to it.

Thursday matches have been introduced to the already lengthy and cumbersome schedule.

With an alarming drop in attendance figures - despite SANZAAR best efforts to put a positive spin on the ridiculous format - Thursday matches are unlikely to drive up the numbers at the stadium turnstiles.

The competition will kick off on Thursday, February 23, when the Melbourne Rebels host the Blues.

The Sharks will be the first South African side in action when they take on the Reds in Brisbane a day later.
 
The Thursday kick-off is a first for Super Rugby and is followed a week later by another Thursday match between the Western Force and the Reds in Perth.
 
The opening round of action will see two South African derbies - both on Saturday, 25 February - when 2016 runners-up, the Lions, travel to Bloemfontein to face the Cheetahs, while the Stormers will host the Bulls in Cape Town.
 
The Hurricanes will start off their title defence in Tokyo against the Sunwolves, while 2016 Australian conference winners, the Brumbies, will play the Crusaders in Christchurch.
 
It will be the second season for the 17-round, four-conference tournament structure that sees each team play 15 matches and have two byes.

As in 2016, each team will play six matches within its own conference and nine matches against other conference teams.
 
SANZAAR, in an effort to convince themselves that the discombobulated and cumbrous format is actually working, suggested analysis of the new bonus point system showed it provided an "increased level of competitiveness" and rewarded those teams with an attacking mind-set.

Despite the increase in the number of matches compared to previous years the average number of points scored per match increased from 45.3 to 52.0 while tries were up from 5.1 to 6.4 per match.

SANZAAR, conveniently, forgot to mention that the increased in average points per match could be contributed to the higher number of blow-outs - the result of a diluted system with more teams unable to be competitive throughout the season.

The 2017 June Test window, and in particular the British & Irish Lions series in New Zealand, has an impact on the match schedule.

Fixtures in early June and July have therefore been scheduled around the various June Tests and the matches between the British & Irish Lions and the five New Zealand Vodacom Super Rugby teams.

Of course, there is the usual spin-doctoring from SANZAAR, who may as well add a few more As to their name to make themselves feel good.

"The new season is set to be another enthralling, action-packed one as we enter the second year of the 18-team conference-style tournament," said SANZAAR CEO Andy Marinos.
 
"We saw some fantastic rugby earlier this year and we look forward in particular to the continued development of the new franchises that added exciting new territories and colour to the tournament
 
"The schedule will see four Sunwolves matches played in Tokyo and three matches in Singapore, while eight matches will be hosted by the Jaguares in Buenos Aires. Both these teams made their Super Rugby debuts in 2016, with the Southern Kings from South Africa returning after their brief spell in 2013.
 
"It is anticipated that all three teams will be better for the experience of 2016 as we look forward to seeing their continued improvement. Super Rugby continues to be the toughest rugby tournament in the world given the high level, week-to-week competition and the travelling that is undertaken.
 
"We enjoyed a global audience of just over 50 million viewers for the 20th edition of Super Rugby with just over 2 million fans attending the matches. I would like to say a big thank you to all the fans and supporters for their support through 2016 and look forward to having our competition entertain and entice you through 2017," added Marinos.
 
* For the 2017 schedule CLICK HERE!

Reds vs Waratahs
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Force vs Lions
sast: 13h55 | local: 19h55

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 29 April 2017
Force v Lions 11h55 Perth
Leicester Tigers v Sale Sharks 14h00 Welford Road
Bath v Gloucester 14h00 Recreation Ground
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bristol 14h00 Allianz Park
Ospreys v Ulster 14h00 Liberty Stadium
Cheetahs v Crusaders 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Munster 17h05 Stadio Monigo
Kings v Rebels 17h30 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Connacht v Scarlets 18h35 Sportsground
Jaguares v Sharks 19h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 30 April 2017
Brumbies v Blues 06h05 Canberra
Fri, 05 May 2017
Hurricanes v Stormers 07h35 Westpac Stadium
Cheetahs v Highlanders 17h00 Bloemfontein
Sat, 06 May 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Edinburgh 22h00 Scotstoun Stadium
Dragons v Cardiff Blues 22h00 Rodney Parade
Zebre v Treviso 22h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Ulster v Leinster 22h00 Kingspan Stadium
Scarlets v Ospreys 22h00 Parc y Scarlets
Munster v Connacht 22h00 Thomond Park
Bristol v Newcastle Falcons 22h00 Ashton Gate
Sale Sharks v Bath 22h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Gloucester v Exeter Chiefs 22h00 Kingsholm
Northampton Saints v Harlequins 22h00 Franklin's Gardens
Worcester Warriors v Leicester Tigers 22h00 Sixways
Wasps v Saracens 22h00 Ricoh Arena
Rebels v Lions 05h00 Melbourne
Chiefs v Reds 07h35 New Plymouth
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 17
Reds 8 2 0 6 10
Force 7 2 0 5 9
Waratahs 8 2 0 6 9
Rebels 7 1 1 5 7
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 8 0 0 36
Hurricanes 8 7 0 1 33
Chiefs 8 7 0 1 33
Highlanders 9 6 0 3 28
Blues 8 3 0 5 17
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 9 6 0 3 26
Bulls 8 3 0 5 14
Cheetahs 8 2 0 6 10
Sunwolves 8 1 0 7 5
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 8 7 0 1 32
Sharks 8 5 1 2 24
Jaguares 8 4 0 4 20
Kings 8 2 0 6 10