NZ alone fought to change Super Rugby format

Date published: September 23 2016

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New Zealand tried and failed to change next year's Super Rugby format after opposition from Australia and South Africa.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew admitted on Friday his country were the only ones keen on changing the structure of the tournament but were outvoted by their SANZAR partners.

The 18-team competition is full of flaws but the one which upset the New Zealanders the most is when the Chiefs and the Highlanders had to play their quarter-finals away from home this year against teams who finished with less points than them.

The Crusaders also had to wait an eternity to discover where they would play their quarter-final and were then left stranded in Christchurch for two days waiting for flights to South Africa.

All five New Zealand teams have campaigned for the introduction of a straight top eight next year – where the four teams with the most points, regardless of where they are based, host the quarter-finals.

"Yes we are disappointed that we couldn't get agreement from Australia and South Africa," Tew said. 

"We've tried and haven't completely given up but it's unlikely we'll get any substantial change in the finals format next year. If there are any changes for 2018 then that gives another chance to have that debate. I'm stubborn and we'll keep plugging away because we think it makes much more sense to have a straight top eight. It makes it a lot easier for the fans. They can almost disregard the complications of the conferences and just look at the log and say 'is my team in the top eight'.

"We think it would've produced a fairer finals result this year but our partners think it was an aberration and we won't have four teams in the finals again which is fine. They don't want a change and you've got to have agreement in Sanzaar – that's the beauty of a joint venture."

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