Report: Surprise new Super Rugby format for next year revealed
According to a report from the New Zealand Herald, an agreement has been reached by NZR and RA that all 12 teams will play each other once, with a further three round-robin fixtures to be randomly allocated.
The play-offs structure is reported to be a straight knockout format featuring the eight top teams, with the opening quarter-final round pitting the first-ranked side against eighth-placed team, second vs seventh, third vs sixth and fourth vs fifth.
The Herald reports the way in which the three additional round-robin matches will be decided is yet to be determind.
RA is understood to be eager for those matches to be domestic fixtures, whereby Australian teams play Australian teams and Kiwi sides play Kiwi sides.
However, NZR is thought to be opposed to such a concept due to the more difficult route the New Zealand franchises would have to traverse to make the play-offs.
According to the Herald, a method to determine who plays what teams in those additional three fixtures is being determined based on the rankings of this year’s Super Rugby Trans-Tasman table.
That method is believed to see those three extra games split between one team that finished higher up the table, one that finished near the middle of the table, and one that finished at the bottom of the table.
All up, all teams are expected to play 14 round-robin fixtures – seven at home and seven away – and up to three play-off matches, with the season set to kick-off in February and conclude by mid-June, a few weeks shy of the July test series.
Furthermore, the two new Super Rugby franchises, Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua, will reportedly play each other twice in their debut campaigns.
The report indicates that RA has missed out on its preferred format of splitting the competition into two conferences. That would have ensured more local derbies, which proved popular in Australia during Super Rugby AU.
However, NZR are reported to have compromised by granting RA more financial benefits while they help carry the costs of funding Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua.
The Herald states that an announcement confirming the future of Super Rugby is expected in the coming days.
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