The Sharks Sharkie

Too Much Rugby – What Is To Be Done (Part 3): Super 16

Written by Austin (The Sharks Sharkie)

Posted in :Admin, Original Content, Reader Submissions, Super Rugby on 13 Jul 2011 at 07:09
Tagged with : , , , ,

In “Too Much Rugby – What Is To Be Done (Part 2): Super 15” I discussed two possible variations which allow for the contraction of the current Super 15 format. However with the Kings promised Super Rugby entry in 2013 and Argentina included in an expanded 4 Nations tournament next year (thereby increasing the chances of Argentinian Super Rugby franchises), the tournament is only set to get bigger and bigger.

The shenanigans of the GLRU have recently made a few headlines but make no mistake, although they have lost their financial backing they will still fight for their place in Super Rugby and won’t simply give it away to the Kings. Neither will the Lions be too keen on merging with the Cheetahs or the Bulls. The whole dilemma of removing or merging one of our current Super Rugby teams to make way for the Southern Kings can be completely avoided if the tournament was simply expanded to include a 6th South African franchise. Welcome to Super 16 rugby Eastern Cape.

The first of my possible two Super 16 formats is the tried-and-tested Super 12/14 format. Teams play each other once, the home ground advantage rotating each year. The four highest ranked teams then play in 2 semi-finals and the winners play in a final. Perhaps because of the expansion of the tournament, 2 quarterfinals can also be introduced, the two top ranked teams receiving a bye in the week that the quarterfinals are being played. If the tournament is played with 2 quarterfinals, there is no loss in games being played from the Super 15 but there are less derbies and no conference system which the majority of South African fans have felt is unfair to our teams because our derbies take a greater physical toll on our players than the Australian or New Zealand derbies do on theirs.

Player fatigue will still be an issue in Super 16 format 1 because all teams still play the same amount of games. All South African sides will have to make 5-week tours of Australasia and all the Australasia teams will be forced to make a 3-week tour of South Africa. SANZAR will be happy enough knowing that their pockets haven’t gotten any smaller and the duration of the tournament will still threaten the Currie Cup’s success as a prestigious stand-alone competition. Too much rugby is still being played and nothing has really been done about it.

“The Southern Hemisphere is miles ahead in the rugby world. The Northern Hemisphere is always trailing in the dust.” Heard this before? Well one area where I think the Northern Hemisphere is clearly miles ahead of us is the Heineken Cup. For those that don’t know the first thing about European rugby, the Heineken Cup is the Super Rugby tournament of the Northern Hemisphere. 6 groups of 4 teams each compete in home and away matches against each other (within each group).

The top 8 teams then play in quarterfinals, the victors progressing into the semi-finals. The competition then concludes with a final between the semi-finalist victors.

A similar format should be adopted for Super 16. 4 groups of 4 teams would play home and away games against each other (within a group). The winners of the 4 groups would then play semi-finals and then a final. A 3rd/4th playoff can be added to try boost revenue earned, which will take a big dip with a 59% cut in games being played per tournament (from 126 matches in Super 15 to 52 matches in Super 16 format 2). There are less derby games, another reason for South African fans and the coaches to smile (in terms of injuries).

Super 16 format 2 allows for expansion very easily as well. 20 years down the line Super Rugby could be competed between franchises from Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Argentina, USA, Canada, Tonga, Fiji and Samoa and not much would have changed in the format! By the time this happens SANZAR will still be lining their pockets with even more money from increased fixtures yet the total games played per team would remain the same.

One major disadvantage of Super 16 format 2 is that it is highly likely that a team might not face over half of the other Super Rugby franchises, and many of the rivalries that we have come to enjoy and relish over the years will be completely forgotten. Fans will also never be completely happy with one qualification system and this will always be a central cause of debate.

No matter how big crowd attendances are, team franchises and SANZAR are going to suffer with major revenue losses. I don’t see the Australian sides surviving a 59% drop in matches, especially since there is no domestic tournament for their franchises to compete in. Non-Wallaby Australian rugby players will play rugby for a maximum of 8 weeks; the remaining 46 weeks of the year will be spent doing nothing. While the eventual outcome of Super 16 format 2 may be far more teams in Super Rugby and therefore more revenue for SANZAR, temporary losses are a given and the team franchises are going to battle to pay their players good salaries with only 6 regular season matches (provided the format remains the same).

My qualification system for Super 16 format 2 is shown below. Whilst looking at my qualification system keep the following things in mind. All rankings are based on the 2011 Super 15 log. The Kings are ranked 16th by assumption. Each group is made up of 4 seeds. The 1st seed in each group is the 4 highest ranked teams on the Super 15 log, so effectively the first 3 groups will contain teams from three different countries. There can be no more than 2 teams of the same nationality per group. That means 1 group will be Australian dominated, another New Zealand dominated and the remaining 2 groups South African dominated. Like in the Super 15 qualification system (part 2), the Super 16 system places the 2 top ranked sides of a country in the same group (except for group 3), thereby guaranteeing two exciting derbies per group (excluding group 4). Seeds 3 and 4 in a group cannot be of the same nationality.

The qualification system is laid out below:

Group 1: 1st team (AU); 2nd AU team; 5th NZ team; 6th SA team
Group 2: 2nd team (SA); 2nd SA team; 4th NZ team; 5th AU team
Group 3: 3rd team (NZ); 3rd NZ team (see group 4 seed 1); 4th AU team; 5th SA team
Group 4: 4th team (NZ); (Remaining 3 teams): 3rd SA team; 3rd AU team; 4th SA team

So based on the 2011 Super 15 log the composition of the groups would look like this:

Group 1: Reds (1st); Waratahs (5th); Chiefs (10th); Kings (16th)
Group 2: Stormers (2nd); Sharks (6th); Hurricanes (9th); Rebels (15th)
Group 3: Crusaders (3rd); Highlanders (8th); Brumbies (13th); Lions (14th)
Group 4: Blues (4th); Western Force (12th); Bulls (7th); Cheetahs (11th)

I can already imagine South African and Australian fans saying, “Wait a minute mate, didn’t our teams end higher on the log yet the Crusaders have the easiest group!” The only reason the Crusaders have an easier group is because all the New Zealand franchises (as a whole) performed the best out of the 3 SANZAR nations so the Kiwi teams in groups 1 and 2 are higher ranked than the Australian and South African teams in group 3. With this qualification system, the country whose teams perform the best will possibly get the easiest group.

The Australian teams in group 1, the New Zealand teams in group 3 and the South African teams in groups 2 and 4 are all at an advantage in terms of tours between Australasia and South Africa, because their tours are shorter (by 1 week) than their fellow teams in the other groups. This is however fair because those teams in groups 1, 2, 3 and 4 are all ranked higher than their fellow teams of the same nationality and therefore deserve shorter tours. The only exception is in the case of the Blues (group 4 seed 1).

Remember that there will never be one completely fair qualification system. Certain teams will always be disadvantaged in one way or another. The best qualification system is the one that is the most fair – do you think that my qualification system is the most fair? Or do you have a better one to replace it?

Super 16 format 1 and Super 16 format 2 are both very different prospects, from each other and from Super 15. Super 16 format 2 is revolutionary so to speak and is definitely something fans haven’t seen and players haven’t experienced before. Which system do you feel is the best solution – Super 16 format 1; Super 16 format 2 or your own Super Rugby format?


  • 😕

  • Comment 1, posted at 13.07.11 07:48:38 by SharksRTB Reply
  • @SharksRTB (Comment 1) : Whats the matter? A bit too confusing??

  • Comment 2, posted at 13.07.11 10:31:22 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie
  • I’d go for format 2. 4 groups with 4 teams each. BUT I’d say the top 2 teams should qualify and then go for Quarter finals.

  • Comment 3, posted at 13.07.11 10:43:32 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Ben (Comment 3) : Quarterfinals could work but that would mean that half the log would participate in finals rugby. Some of the quarters certainly wouldn’t be very exciting.

  • Comment 4, posted at 13.07.11 11:00:23 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie
  • @The Sharks Sharkie (Comment 4) : Going straight to the semi’s would make the comp far to short. The 2 teams going to the final would then only play 8 games in total in the comp.

  • Comment 5, posted at 13.07.11 11:03:41 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • Or maybe something like this. 4 groups with 4 teams each. Top 2 teams in each group goes through to top 8. In the top 8 teams play each other once with the top 4 going through to the semi’s.

  • Comment 6, posted at 13.07.11 11:14:05 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Ben (Comment 5) : Yes precisely. We want a shorter competition!

  • Comment 7, posted at 13.07.11 11:45:24 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie
  • @Ben (Comment 5) : @The Sharks Sharkie (Comment 7) : Though perhaps 8 games is maybe a little too short…

  • Comment 8, posted at 13.07.11 11:45:57 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie
  • @Ben (Comment 6) : That complicates and confuses things more. If there are quarters then the Top 2 teams of each group must all play!

    Actually looking at the group composition quarters is not a bard idea at all as there are at least 2 title contendars in both groups. Likely quarterfinalists would be: Reds, Waratahs, Stormers, Sharks, Crusaders, Highlanders, Blues and Bulls.

    Hmmm… that could work…

  • Comment 9, posted at 13.07.11 11:49:01 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie
  • @The Sharks Sharkie (Comment 8) : Far to short dude. That’s 2 months.

  • Comment 10, posted at 13.07.11 11:49:18 by Ben Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Ben (Comment 10) : But it is what the doctor has ordered. Besides, it will get bigger with more franchises (though the duration will remain the same). The Currie Cup will continue as per normal and there may even be a good opportunity to add a third club tournament into the mix.

    Super 16 format 2 may not be the best option (far too short) but I think we can all agree that right now Super Rugby is hogging the rugby calendar…

  • Comment 11, posted at 13.07.11 12:09:00 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie
  • Why not just go all the way… Make it 20 teams, 4 pools of 5, home and away, QF,SF, Final.

    That’s 8 pool games, 3 finals games to win it.
    Only 11 games, with two byes ( having four teams playing each week, that means one bye for each home/away ’round’ ).

    Makes the comp 13 weeks.

  • Comment 12, posted at 13.07.11 12:25:16 by Ossa Reply

  • @Ossa (Comment 12) : Show me where you are going to get an extra 4 teams.

  • Comment 13, posted at 13.07.11 12:41:08 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie
  • @The Sharks Sharkie (Comment 13) : Kings, Pampas, Pacific Islanders, Brackenfell Rugby Club 🙂

  • Comment 14, posted at 13.07.11 12:48:46 by Ossa Reply

  • @Ossa (Comment 14) : No if you include the Kings you’ll need a fifth team as well! My point is I doubt there are 5 extra teams to be added right now. Maybe 2 or 3 max.

  • Comment 15, posted at 13.07.11 12:55:45 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie
  • @The Sharks Sharkie (Comment 15) : Point taken, but the Rebels were just ‘conjured’ up, why can we not think up another two teams? Having two Argentinian and two Pacific teams?( plus the Kings )

  • Comment 16, posted at 13.07.11 13:00:51 by Ossa Reply

  • @Ossa (Comment 16) : Remember that Australia had the player resources, money, infastructure, support, etc. to set up a 5th franchise. Getting franchises from the Pacific Islanders or Argentina will be harder as most of their players are already contracted in Europe. Trying to get those players back will be very difficult.

  • Comment 17, posted at 13.07.11 21:19:27 by The Sharks Sharkie Reply
    The Sharks Sharkie

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