2017 Super Ruby Format to Remain the Same
Super Rugby’s governing body SANZAAR has announced that the 2017 season will see no new changes to the current conference format. This year SANZAAR introduced additional conferences to allow Super Rugby to expand into 18 teams. The new teams that were introduced into the 2016 line-up included Japan’s Sunwolves, South Africa’s Southern King’s and Argentina’s Jaguars. The expanded competition takes place over four continents and spans a total of 16 time zones.
The newly implemented conference format is already taking its toll on the teams and individual players. The fragmented four-piece conference system is being criticised as too complex and is resulting in exhausting travel schedules and one-sided matches where the result is a forgone conclusion. Some teams, including the Sunwolves have only won a single match out of their 15 games. While the chance to participate is a major step forward, the lopsided matches make for uninspiring rugby and somewhat empty stadiums.
Speaking about the decision to retain the current conference format, SANZAAR chief Andy Marinos explained that all three new teams would have gained enough exposure in the 2016 season to play even better in 2017. He went on to say that SANZAAR is looking forward to seeing their continued improvement, and is confident that 2017 will be an action packed season filled with enthralling rugby.
2017 Season Kicks Off on the 23rd of Feb
The Super Rugby 2017 season will kick off with Blues playing the Rebels in Melbourne on the 23rd of February. The action packed season will play out over seven months and will culminate in a final that will take place on Saturday the 5th of August 2017. The defending champions, the Hurricanes will play the underdog Sunwolves on the 23rd of Feb. In total, the Japanese will play four of their matches on home soil in Tokyo, with an additional three in Singapore. It’s hoped that this will give them added confidence and offer something of a home ground advantage
The first South African Super Rugby match will take place in Bloemfontein between the 2016 seasons’ runners up the Lions and the home side the Cheetahs. In New Zealand, the semi-finalists, the Chief’s will face off against the highlanders on February 24th. Between June and July, the competition will see a short mid-season pause and a few split rounds to accommodate for international fixtures. The Australian Rugby Union aims to experiment with Thursday night matches in the first two rounds of the competition in a bid to extend the Super Rugby weekend for punters and sports fans.