There is no official word yet, but it appears that there will be a boost in the number of derbies with a home and away system being implimented for teams within the same country.
Despite top secrecy since last Thursday’s successful SANZAR meeting – at which South Africa confirmed it would remain in the Super rugby competition – Josh Rakic of The Sun-Herald can confirm a 15th team will be included in an extended competition from 2011.
Reds rugby boss Peter Lewis last week demanded Australian teams play each other twice in the regular season to boost patronage and revenue with local derbies. A source close to the SANZAR camp confirmed that this would, in fact, be the case.
All 15 teams will play each other once, while the regular season will be extended by three rounds, during which teams will play three other sides from their respective pools for a second time. This means the Waratahs would be likely to have home and away matches with the Reds, Brumbies and Force.
Instead of having six home games one season and the seven the next, it’s believed all teams will have eight home matches a season, creating three extra revenue-making opportunities over two years.
The good news for Wallabies coach Robbie Deans – who last week gave his public support to expansion – is that the 15th team is all but certain to be based in Melbourne.
The length of the Super season was a big talking point at the meeting, Australia making no secret of its intention to extend the season and start it later to compete with the NRL and AFL.
South Africa was opposed to the suggestion, which would affect its prized domestic Currie Cup season, but the two nations and New Zealand were able to agree on a likely four-week extension.
Final details are still to be nutted out but it’s believed the season could be pushed back a week to start on the second last weekend in February.
If the bye rounds remain as expected, this would push the regular season back until the final weekend of May – the same weekend on which this year’s grand final will be played.
Regardless, all three nations have agreed on an overhaul of the finals system, doing away with the four-team structure to make a six-team finals series.
In the model, teams No. 1 and No. 2 would automatically progress to the grand final qualifiers and teams No. 3 and No. 4 would play teams No. 6 and No. 5 respectively. The winners would go on to battle for a grand final berth against the top two teams.
To accommodate the extra two teams, the finals series will be extended by one week, meaning the Super rugby calendar could run until the end of June, or at least into the third week.Tweet