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Super Bowl strategy could shake up Super Rugby Pacific final

By Ned Lester
Whitelock running out for his beloved Crusaders but he is unsure what the future holds in 2024 (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

In the current system, each year’s Super Rugby Pacific final is played at the higher-seeded team’s home ground. However, that is not the case in Europe’s Champions Cup, the NFL’s Super Bowl, or even Super Rugby Aupiki.

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While the status quo is familiar to Super Rugby Pacific fans, former Leinster and Fijian international player Isa Nacewa has experienced the excitement of travelling to a neutral venue for grand finals and is optimistic the benefits would translate in Super Rugby Pacific.

A revised system could see the final venue determined prior to the season’s start and reserve a portion of seats for each team’s travelling fans.

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“It’s a pretty cool thought,” Nacewa told SENZ The Run Home.

“Even when Spain in Bilbao hosted the last final, that was outside of the main centres (and it was) absolutely amazing.

“They did the Amlin Challenge Cup on the Friday night which is the first rugby game ever in that football stadium followed by the Heineken Cup on the following night.

“You had a packed stadium on the Friday night, packed stadium on the Saturday night and it’s just phenomenal for the whole industry and tourism industry and everything to do with that.

“It’s an exciting thing as a fan travelling to those days.”

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Feedback around the success of Super Rugby Aupiki’s playoffs being played at predetermined venues was mixed. The semi-finals were played as a doubleheader in Auckland while the final and bronze medal match were also a doubleheader played in Hamilton.

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For the system to be applied successfully in Super Rugby Pacific, Nacewa says the venue would have to work geographically for fans, proposing the idea of a final played in the Pacific Islands.

“Do the geographics work? I’d love to see a Blues-Chiefs final, but you wouldn’t want that to be in Australia or you wouldn’t want that in a neutral venue in South Africa because it just doesn’t work for the geographics,” he said.

“Maybe a final in Fiji, who knows … but I’m sure if you had the final in the Pacific, it would get sold out straight away, no matter who you’re supporting.

“So maybe things like that need to happen in the future just to actually shake things up and give it some vibe back.”

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