It's the Super 15
by Tracey Nelson
20 May 2009
Apparently the bigwigs in SANZAR are of the opinion that the southern hemisphere rugby market is not saturated and that there will be plenty of spectator interest in the new 24-week Super 15 competition when it kicks off in 2011. One plus to the expanded comp though is an extended play-offs series between six teams rather than just four as stands at the moment.
After lengthy discussions over the past months between the three SANZAR partners, a compromise has finally been reached and the Super competition will be expanded to include another team – although quite where that side will come from is anyone’s guess. The competition will be split into three conferences, based in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. With South Africa and New Zealand already having five sides each, obviously it is out of the Australian conference that this 15th side will play in. But, despite Melbourne and the Gold Coast being suggested, there will be a tender process open to all-comers which could include a Pacific Islands side, Japan or even an Argentinian team.
The new competition has been structured as follows:
- It will start in late February and conclude in the first week of August (except in 2011 when it will start and finish earlier to accommodate the Rugby World Cup).
- Within each conference, all sides will play one another both home and away.
- They will then play four out of the five teams from each of the other two conferences (four home and four away games).
- Next will come a break in June to allow for the three countries to host in-bound tests from the Northern Hemisphere.
- The Super 15 will then continue in July with each conference winner earning automatic entry into the finals.
- There will be three other qualifiers and they will be teams that have scored the highest number of points across any of the three conferences.
- The playoffs will take place over three weeks. The three qualifiers and the conference winner with the least competition points will play off to determine which two teams go through to the semis to meet the two conference winners with the highest competition points.
At the completion of the Super 14 the TriNations will start in South Africa in mid-August and conclude with two of the three Bledisloe tests in early October – this is to allow the early release of Springboks to play in the Currie Cup. This will effectively remove All Blacks from playing in the ANZC due to the overlap of the two competitions.by