Yes it’s VERY different, and not everyone’s cup of tea, but not actually that complex. We take a look at the 2017 Vodacom Super Rugby structure.
As per the changes last year:
- Super Rugby comprises of 18 teams.
- South Africa has 6 teams participating: Bulls, Cheetahs, Kings, Lions, Sharks, Stormers.
- South Africa’s teams are grouped into 2 conferences.
- Each conference comprises four teams – the Jaguares (Argentina) and Sunwolves (Japan) complete the SA conferences.
So in a nutshell …
There are 2 groups:
The Australasian group
The South African group
There are 4 conferences:
Australia: Waratahs, Reds, Brumbies, Force, Rebels
New Zealand: Blues, Hurricanes, Crusaders, Chiefs, Highlanders
South Africa 1: Bulls, Cheetahs, Stormers, Sunwolves
South Africa 2: Kings, Lions, Sharks, Jaguares
Each team will play 15 games. In SA, we apply the 6, 5, 4 principle – each team will play their three conference rivals on a home and away basis (6 games). Each team will play the five teams in EITHER the Australian or New Zealand conference, alternating each year (5 games). Each SA team will play the four teams in the other SA conference (4 games).
This year, teams in SA1 play the New Zealand sides, and teams in SA2 play the Australian sides.
The top team in each of the 4 conferences automatically qualifies for the quarter-finals.
The three best teams of those remaining in the Australasian Group, and the best remaining team in the South African group, also qualify for the quarter-finals as wildcards.
The conference winners will be seeded #1 to #4 for the quarter finals, in order of log points gained during the group stages, and they will host the quarter finals. The wildcards will be seeded #5 to #8 in order of log points gained during the group stages, and will play away from home.
Quarter-final 1: 1 v 8
Quarter-final 2: 2 v 7
Quarter-final 3: 3 v 6
Quarter-final 4: 4 v 5.
In a change from 2016, the semi-final draw will be predetermined and NOT based on seedings:
Semi-final 1: Winner QF 1 v Winner QF 4
Semi-final 2: Winner QF 2 v Winner QF 3
The predetermined semi-finals will be hosted by the highest-seeded of the two teams that qualify for each semi-final. If seed #7 and #8 both win their quarter-finals, #7 will host the first semi-final.
The winner of the semi-finals will progress to the final, at the venue of the highest-seeded team.
The tournament kicks-off on Thursday, 23 February when the Rebels host the Blues at AAMI Park in Melbourne. This year sees two matches played in the Pacific Islands: Chiefs versus Crusaders in Suva, Fiji on Friday 19 May, and Blues versus Reds in Apia, Samoa on Friday 2 June.
CLICK HERE for full list of 2017 fixtures.