The Super 15 Rugby competition is expected to become a Super 18 Rugby competition in 2016. This format see two conferences formed with the current Australia and New Zealand conferences combining with each team playing teams from their own conference both home and away and the other conference once. This would take 13 weeks which is shorter time than the current 16 weeks.
The South African conference would include two teams from Argentina and six South African teams. This makes sense since Argentina is now in the Rugby Championship and so it would be good to give them a chance. Including six South African teams will test their depth, but will shut them up since there are always political undertones with the Southern Kings (a largely black dominated area) requiring inclusion even though they finished last this year and got relegated. This competition would see teams play each other home and away over 14 weeks.
The benefits of a Super 18 would be that players only really travel within their conference until the finals where the leading teams would play each other. Hopefully less travel would be better for players and the teams would only really play at times which would be easier to watch on television for the local fans.
The key would be finishing the finals series before the international test window starts. Currently Super Rugby goes for 25 weeks in total because there is a long break towards the end for the June Internationals. This is hardly ideal at the business end of the season because some players have nothing to do for a month, while others play test matches. It disrupts the momentum for all teams heading into the finals.
Should there be a Japan or Pacific Islands team included in this Super 18 competition? When will this expansion end? They just keep wanting to increase the competition!
I wouldn’t mind having a Japanese or Pacific Islands team in Super Rugby but that would make it into a 20 team competition. They could join the Australian and New Zealand Conference taking it to 12 teams and this could mean each team plays each other or there could be two pools of six which play each other twice and then the top two from each pool play each other to qualify to play the winners of the South African/ South American conference.
Including Japan would in some ways not solve the issue of cutting back on travel so much, but given they are hosting the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and they are a big market, then it could be good for the game.
What do you think of the proposed Super 18 competition in 2016?