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Thread: Time to pack more playoff punch

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    Time to pack more playoff punch

    Time to pack more playoff punch
    By MARC HINTON - RugbyHeaven | Friday, 18 January 2008
    Time to pack more playoff punch - Opinion - RugbyHeaven


    Enough is enough with this Super 14 of ours. It is time for some tinkering and to my way of thinking thereís no place more in need of attention than the playoffs format.

    As the 13th edition of the tri-nations franchise rugby competition gets set to kick off in less than a monthís time, itís hardly going out on a limb to say that the competition is in serious need of a makeover.

    Since its inception back in 1996, when it was a wonderful, breezy new flagship of the professional game, the Super 14 (or Super 12 as it was back then) has proven a fairly reliable vehicle for our national game, as well as that of Australia and South Africa.

    Back in 2006 the competition was expanded by two teams, but other than that the format has been pretty much unaltered, give or take the odd name change over in the republic.

    There has been no doubting the level of the football, with the exception of a few South African teams that have struggled to take the whole thing seriously, and the fact that not only has it produced a compelling event in its own right, but that itís been an ideal preparation ground for test match rugby.

    Some northern critics would have you believe otherwise, but last time I checked Tri-Nations sides had won the World Cup five times and northern hemisphere teams just the once. The Super 14 must be doing something right.

    Anyway, moving right along. Even the best of competitions need a lick of paint every now and then and to my way of thinking the Super 14 cries out for an obvious one.

    The finals format, stuck in a tired, two-week, four team, semifinal-final setup, has stayed exactly the way it is since 1996.

    And that just doesnít make any sense.

    Firstly, the cutoff point for success or failure is just too damn high. Fourteen teams line up in this competition, and just four coaches meet their minimum targets by qualifying for post-season football. Thatís a brutally tough margin for error.

    Plus, it just doesnít add up commercially or in a pure fan sense to have a 13-week regular season and then just two weeks of cutting-edge, high-drama finals football. Itís all over barely after itís just started.

    Everywhere you look around the world, professional competitions have grown the post-season portion of their competitions to be a significant part of the season. The American sports, the NRL, even the Champions League all have significant finals formats that not only go on for some time, but produce huge revenue streams.

    Itís what the fans want, itís what the broadcasters and sponsors want and, truth be told, itís what the players want. There is simply nothing like sudden-death sport, and the more of it you can squeeze into your season the better.

    Itís time Sanzarís administrators woke up and smelt the coffee on this one.

    The gameís administrators will argue that thereís not room in the calendar to add to this competition.

    Thatís nothing but a copout, I reckon.

    It didnít stop them adding two more teams (a questionable call) back in Ď06. They just have to find room to add at least another week to the post-season.

    A simple way to expand the playoffs without sacrificing too much in the way of extra time would be to have six teams qualify for the finals which would take place over three weekends. Itís a bare minimum, I believe.

    The first post-season round the teams that finished one and two would have a bye and prepare to host the major semifinals in week two. The third and fourth finishers would then host the minor semifinals against the fifth and sixth-placed sides. These would be compelling matchups between outfits desperate to keep their hopes alive.

    Simple enough, and it takes just one more week. The pre-season could simply be shortened by seven days to fit this in.

    And this way we would have six teams having a chance at the title, a lot more interest in the regular season because more teams would have a shot at the playoffs right up to the final few rounds and the top two sides would still gain a deserved edge by having a week to shake off their injuries and prepare to host the major semis.

    I know Chiefs coach Ian Foster is in favour of a move along these lines and when a guy as highly respected and knowledgeable as this guy feels that itís time to raise the threshold for failure, I reckon itís time someone started listening.

    Sanzar has some much-needed ground to make up with its broadcaster (and major funder) News Limited. Taking an expanded finals format to them with an extra round of high-rating knockout football would seem to be an ideal place to start.

    Letís just hope it happens sooner rather than later. Super rugby needs some tinkering lest it become not so super any more. The finals format is the obvious place to start.

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    I love the idea of more rugby, and a broader finals series means quality as well...Bring it on...

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    Champion Contributor Em-Forcer's Avatar
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    How long till it's two competitions...?
    - a league with no finals as such, unless it happens to come down to a specific match
    - and a cup / knock-out

    Guess extending the S14 finals is a step down that road. Could be the way they end up replacing the ARC...?

    Now... how fitting in two competitions would work, alongside club, national and touring duties, I don't know! The IRB already can't get their heads round the current timetable, they'd probably implode

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    Champion Contributor Seldom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Em-Forcer View Post
    The IRB already can't get their heads round the current timetable, they'd probably implode
    This wouldn't be a bad thing, would it Em????

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    err no, maybe not!

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    the cutoff point for success or failure is just too damn high. Fourteen teams line up in this competition, and just four coaches meet their minimum targets by qualifying for post-season football. That’s a brutally tough margin for error.

    I would suggest it is a brutally tough competition and everyone knows the parameters at the outset.
    That said, I don't think that over 50% of any competition should have the chance to pull out a couple of big matches and win so, while we have a fourteen team comp, I would only be in favour of expanding to a six team Final with Teams 1 & 2 being rewarded for their season with a Bye, 3 v 6 and 4 v 5. Winner of 4 v 5 to play 1 and the winner of 3 v 6 to play 2. Winners to play the Grand Final.

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    Yeah, that's how I would understand it. I like the idea, mostly because it gives another two teams the opportunity to host a final and generate revenue. Just taking a quick look, I think I'm right in saying that the same arrangement in the S12 would have had all teams host a final, with all but one having hosted at least 2.

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    Immortal Contributor The InnFORCEr's Avatar
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    Great idea, but I think Subi Oval is already booked when we wnat to host a final!

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    Interesting that Ian Foster is in favour of it. Is it the only way he can see to get the chiefs to play finals footy?

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    C'mon the

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    Got it in one GIGST.... Forget six teams in the finals why not make it an easy 8. 1v8, 2v7, 3v6, 4v5. Its still only one extra week of competition but finishing higher up has significant benefits. You could still have league/cup too and just have the minor premiers get the league trophy and the three week finals series winner the cup. Its no huge logistical drama and it would increase revenue something cruel. An increase in takings for that extra week and an increase in takings for the last couple of rounds for teams like the Reds or Waratahs who might still have a slight mathematical chance of making the 8 and the dire hard fans (Chook) might still go to games.

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    Personally, I'm not a big fan of the finals format anyway. It does not necessarily reward consistency throughout the season but is purely a marketing ploy to make more $$$.

    As Burgs has so eloquently described, it is a tough competition & everyone knows at the outset what is required to progress to the knockout stages. Any more than the top 4 teams making the finals will only start to reward mediocrity (that should please the Tahs supporters!!!).

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