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The importance of credibility in Super Rugby

biltongbek Roar Guru

By biltongbek, biltongbek is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger


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    Any competition worth its salt must have credibility in its qualification process, or alternatively credibility in the manner the season is scheduled and therefore the final standings.

    Now we have debated the issue of the conference format to death, hence I don’t want to discuss alternatives to Super Rugby formats as we have yet to all agree on a solution.

    The fact is it will be very hard to satisfy the needs of three countries who by enlarge see the necessity of Super Rugby for different reasons.

    But what is important regardless of the format is that there should never be a hint of tainted credibility when it comes to how points are secured for the qualification of the play offs.

    Let me start by saying the six-team qualification process for playoffs is simply just weird to me.

    Theoretically you can be top of your conference (and qualify for the playoffs), but yet you can be placed lower than six other teams?

    In theory you can also make the top six, be in third place among the three conference winners, and yet be placed lower than a team that has to travel to the conference winner for a play off?

    There is a certain logic when it comes to sport that your perform during the season to benefit from attaining log points which put you in a favourable position. Yet in Super Rugby the reality is you don’t get to enjoy or reap the benefit of consistent performances during a whole season.

    These issues are merely the result of where the biggest issues lie.

    At any time there is a pool round, logic dictates that all teams compete with one another to calculate the final points earned.

    Now a single round robin is flawed in its own right as a team may find that in alternative years, they might have a significantly easier ride every alternative year.

    Having said that, it is at least credible in its results that every team has competed be it home or away against every other opponent.

    The problem comes in when these pool formats do not afford every team the opportunity to compete with every other team. Now you may say in theory it works out because once again as with the previous alternative year format, the situation hasn’t changed.

    I beg to differ in this regard.

    You may ask where I am going with this, well it is really very simple.

    In the last 10 years of Super Rugby, no team has been able to win away from home, apart from the Bulls who beat the Sharks at Kings Park in 2007. But even then it was a local derby, the Bulls didn’t have to travel to the Antipodes to win.

    Consider the Sharks who travelled the globe during their playoff extravaganza last year, beating the Reds and the Stormers across multiple continents.

    Was anyone surprised when they got trounced by a Chiefs team who had an additional week’s rest and no travel?

    The significance of having a home final cannot be underestimated. Topping the final table is essential to winning the tournament (unless of course the Sharks or any other team does a favour to the second placed team by knocking the log leaders out)

    In the last decade the ladder leader won 80 percent of the titles, only once did they not make the final, and only once did a team win it away from home. But not one team won the title across the ocean.

    So, in summary if it is virtually impossible to win across the oceans, all the more emphasis should be put on the credibility of qualifying for such a coveted trophy.

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    The Crowd Says (20)

    • March 20th 2013 @ 8:33am
      Fairandcredible said | March 20th 2013 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      So, the reality is, the team that does the best throughout the tournament has the best chance of winning the final, as they not only top their conference but also top the overall ladder. The last two years(since the conference system) the winners were the Reds and the Chiefs who were the best performed and consistently most entertaining teams in the competition in the respective years. Sounds fair and credible enough to me. Their is not enough time to have a complete home and away series as well as fit in all the internationals, unless of course you drop a couple of teams from EACH conference. That’s not going to happen. So let’s move on.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2013 @ 8:59am
        biltongbek said | March 20th 2013 @ 8:59am | ! Report

        Fairandcredible, you are missing the point completely.

        The problem is not the fact that the log leader gets to win the trophy, it is how they get to the top of the log.

        It is the fact that you get seasons where you don’t play top trams in the competition.

        And you get season where you don’t get to play bottom of the log teams.

        Ultimately you can have as much as an 8 point swing on the log, depending the teams you draw for the season.

        • March 20th 2013 @ 2:34pm
          Fairandcredible said | March 20th 2013 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

          To win, you’re going to have to beat the best at some stage, and generally be the best throughout the comp. Which I think for the last two years has been the case. A whole bunch of other factors come into play in this tournament, not just whether you draw the Kings as opposed to tbe Bulls, but which teams you draw home or away, as well as the sequence of games you draw etc etc, which are all challenges of an extremely challenging comp, which for me, what makes it unique and interesting. The reality is, to win the tournament, you have to be one of the two best teams and perform wel at home and,away, which is extermely challeniging given teh international flavour of the tornament. I am interested to know which South African team you feel should have one the last two years and why as opposed to the Reds and Chiefs.

    • March 20th 2013 @ 9:17am
      Yikes said | March 20th 2013 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      So, the NFL lacks credibility? Not all their teams play everyone else and it is the luck of the draw who you get to play across conferences.

      Frankly, this is a very silly argument.

      The pool winners go through because each pool is slightly different and you reward teams who top their pool. Then you let in the next 3 best teams. It’s simple, it’s fair, it’s effective.

      At the end of the day, travel is a big part of super rugby, and always has been. The fact that the ladder leader has won the title 80 percent of the past decade just shows that we are no worse off under the conference system. The cream rises to the top and the best teams usually win regardless of the structure of the competitions.

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2013 @ 7:27pm
        biltongbek said | March 20th 2013 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

        Yikes, this is not the NFL. This is Super rugby, my concerns aren’t for codes I am not following, my concern is for Super Rugby.

    • March 20th 2013 @ 9:19am
      The Battered Slav said | March 20th 2013 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      I agree Biltong, but this whoe issue could be dealt wth oh so easily if the competition saw each team play each team once.

      If we reverted back to that sort of system, there would still be some inherent inequities, in that one year you might play some easy team away and difficult teams at home, giving you somewhat of an advantage if you are given a better chance of winning against the difficuolt teams.

      So, the system will never be perfect, unless it’s changed to a home and away format where each team plays each team both home and away.

      You could keep the conference system and then the wildcard finalists would have earned their points outside of the conference as well as within, making the comparative strength of the conferences immaterial to the final standings.

      I do like the fact that travel is such a big part, as it gives those teams who can win the minor premiership a big, well deserved advantage, and makes the wildcard qualifiers work that much harder to reach the final.

      The current system could be amendeed very easily to wensure equity, however that is not in the financial interest of the Unions involved or SANZAR as a whole or Mr Murdoch, so it won’t happen.

    • March 20th 2013 @ 9:21am
      Lidcombe Magpie said | March 20th 2013 @ 9:21am | ! Report

      The NFL has a similar scenario. It doesn’t really concern me. If the Waratahs have to play the Bulls, Sharks one year and miss out on the kings that doesn’t bother me. You just have to be prepared to meet every challenge. Life’s not fair why does Super Rugby have to be.

    • March 20th 2013 @ 1:05pm
      nickoldschool said | March 20th 2013 @ 1:05pm | ! Report

      Agree with you in essence biltong. Unfortunately, we have to accept that SR is a tournament, not a championship as such. Hence the importance of the draw. I have been told many times that SR wasn’t meant to be fair or even.

    • March 20th 2013 @ 6:46pm
      Darwin Stubbie said | March 20th 2013 @ 6:46pm | ! Report

      I agree with premise of this … Unfortunately we can’t revert back to 12 or 14 and have everyone play each other … So the conferences are here to stay so the finals certainly need re-jigging … At present it warped far too far – you can win a conference, but if you end up third you’re stuffed as you’ll never win it from there – the last 2 seasons have proven that the travel kills the contest

      The final is meant be be the showcase but unfortunate it won’t ever throw up a half decent contest until there’s a weeks break – so the travelling side gets the chance to acclimatise – home advantage should be enough, it shouldn’t get coupled with playing a side that have had to cross several oceans over the previous fortnight … That week off could easily be filled with a playoff round of the non qualifiers to ascertain cross conference games for the following season …

      (Also – think you’ll find the crusaders have won away finals beating the blues and brumbies away)

      • Roar Guru

        March 20th 2013 @ 7:26pm
        biltongbek said | March 20th 2013 @ 7:26pm | ! Report

        Darwin when we had 14 teams everyone played each other, there were 13 rounds and semi and final, in total there were 16 weeks of rugby.

        Why the conference format , purely for local derbies?

        they could have just added one more week, have the usual round robin where everyone plays everyone else, and then have semi final and final, it would have cut 2 weeks of the schedule.

        • March 20th 2013 @ 7:28pm
          carnivean said | March 20th 2013 @ 7:28pm | ! Report

          Yes, purely for local derbies. They bring more eyeballs and more crowds and more money than cross conference games, in most cases.

          • March 20th 2013 @ 9:11pm
            Bakkies said | March 20th 2013 @ 9:11pm | ! Report

            There were several weekends in Super 12 and Super 14 seasons where there were no games in Australia which also meant little exposure for the game.

            • Roar Guru

              March 20th 2013 @ 9:25pm
              biltongbek said | March 20th 2013 @ 9:25pm | ! Report

              Bakkies, Australia now has 5 teams, if you look at Super 14, Australia had 4 teams with one round robin match vs each other ,it was 6 derby matches, plus 20 cross conference matches in Australia, totalling 26 matches.

              Currently it is no 5 teams with 20 round robin matches, and 20 cross conference matches, so the number of game sincreased from 26 – 40 matches hosted in OZ

              If they simply kept the single round robin, Australia would have had 10 round derby robin matches and 25 cross conference matches.

              So it would still have increased the number of matches hosted in OZ from 26 – 35

              • Roar Guru

                March 21st 2013 @ 2:21am
                abnutta said | March 21st 2013 @ 2:21am | ! Report

                The following comes from the 2011 Super Rugby media guide:

                The Super Rugby competition will not only expand to 15 teams in 2011, it will also undergo a significant format revamp.

                A new three- Conference system will be in place where the five teams within each country will make up nationally based Conferences and play their four ‘local’ rivals on a home and away basis (eight games in total). They will also play four of the other five teams in each of the other two conferences on a home or away basis (another eight games).

                This leads to an overall program of 16 games per team in the regular season, as opposed to the previous 13 – and separate Australian Conference, South African Conference and New
                Zealand Conference tables will chart the fortunes of teams in each country. A three-week finals series involving six teams – as opposed to the previous two-week playoffs for four teams – will further increase the length of the season. At the end of the regular season matches, the top team in each Conference will qualify for the finals. The other three teams to qualify will be the sides
                with the most number of competition points – irrespective of the Conference in which they are based.

                The Conference winners are also ensured of a home finals match. Therefore, at least one finals match will be played in each country each year.

                • An increase in overall matches from 94 to 125 (an increase of 33 percent)
                • A 50 percent increase in the length of the season in non-World Cup years, from 16 weeks to 24 weeks
                • A 31 percent increase in the length of the season in World Cup years, from 16 weeks to 21 weeks
                • 40 Super Rugby regular season matches played in each country each season as opposed to 26 in Australia under the Super 14 structure and 32 or 33 in South Africa and New Zealand
                • There will be 20 regular season local derbies in each country as opposed to six in Australia, 10 in South Africa and 10 in New Zealand under the Super 14 format
                • Half of all regular season matches will be local derbies
                • Each team will play 12 of its 16 regular-season games within its own country – with only four matches overseas

                It is quite obvious from the emphasis on the points made in the “snapshot” section that their main desire is to a) increase the amount of local derbies b) increase the amount of finals c) ensure those finals are played in every country d) reduce the amount of cross-conference matches

              • March 21st 2013 @ 5:04am
                Bakkies said | March 21st 2013 @ 5:04am | ! Report

                Don’t forget this was agreed to when the GFC was really biting. Travel costs had to be reduced as teams are travelling domestically and can arrive later in the week to cut down on accommodation bills.