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RA and NZR agree new Super Rugby format with one major sticking point over 'integrity'

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23rd August, 2021
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Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby have taken a break from hostilities to agree a new Super Rugby format that will see the 12 teams playing each other at least once.

Reports from both sides of the Tasman suggest the format will be similar to the one in use before the countries split into domestic competitions early in the 2021 campaign.

Reports in the Sydney Morning Herald and New Zealand Herald say the teams will play each other once before playing three additional games.

After the 14 game regular season, the top eight will go through to knockout quarter-finals with first against eighth, second against seventh and so on with the higher ranked team playing at home.

Both news organisations reorted the full details are yet to be confirmed with a sticking point over how RA and NZR determine the additional three fixtures.

“While RA want the additional matches to be derbies, the results of trans-Tasman Super Rugby indicate that option would provide an unfair advantage for Australian sides,” wrote the SMH.

“Another option that has been discussed is a random selection of one team from the top third, middle third and bottom third of this year’s trans-Tasman Super Rugby ladder.

“The other alternative is a completely random selection, but this would leave some teams playing the top sides twice while others only have to face those same elite teams once.”

The NZ Herald made mention of the current issues between the nations over the postponement of Bledisloe 3.

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“However damaged Trans-Tasman relations are, they have held up for long enough to enable administrators from New Zealand and Australia to agree a compromise deal on what Super Rugby will look like next year,” wrote Gregor Paul.

The NZ Herald said the three extra games would not be derbies.

“The Herald understands that while Rugby Australia wanted these extra games to be domestic fixtures – Australian teams playing Australian teams and New Zealand teams playing New Zealand teams – that won’t be the case.

“Their request was not granted amid concerns that the competition would instantly lack integrity if there was a heavy weighting on local derbies – with New Zealand sides having argued in the past that this creates inequity and sets them a much harder path to reach the finals than their Australian rivals.

“A formula is being developed based on how the transtasman table finished this year and the only certainty to date is that the two new teams, Moana Pasifika and Fiji Drua, will definitely play each other twice in 2022.”

The NZ Herald reports the competition will kick off in February next year and be finished in mid-June, ahead of the July tests.

It will be played in one continuous bloc – to avoid the problems of the recent past where the competition had to go on hold for three weeks to allow test rugby to be played every June.

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