By Gregor Paul
Having seen the inaugural Super 18 deliver a near farcical playoff line-up, Sanzar is expected to agree to making changes for the 2017 competition.
Executives have been in talks this week, looking at ways they can tinker next year’s format and one idea gaining traction is to change the way home quarterfinals are allocated next year.
The current format is for each of the four respective conference winners to host quarterfinals – a situation that has been hard to fathom given that the Stormers and whichever of the Brumbies and Waratahs tops the Australian pool, will have significantly less competition points than the teams they will likely host in the last eight.
Next year agreement is likely going to be reached to only allocate two playoff spots on geographical grounds. That would see the side from the two African conferences with the most competition points hosting one quarterfinal and the top Australasian side hosting a home playoff.
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The other two games would be allocated on merit – to the teams which finish third and fourth on the overall points table.
If that were the case this year, then it would have a significant impact. It is possible, depending on results this weekend, that at least two New Zealand sides other than the overall conference winner, will finish with more competition points than both the Stormers and Waratahs and Brumbies.
Yet, the situation this year is that only one New Zealand side will host a quarterfinal and the other three will be travelling to play sides they most likely sit higher than on the table.
Having sold the current format to broadcasters on a five-year deal, Sanzar is limited to what amendments they can actually make next year. A quarterfinal re-jig is one of the few options open to them,but they are in the midst of a more extensive strategic review that will give them a blueprint for what significant change should look like beyond 2020.