SANZAR dump 'bye bonus'
SANZAR has decided to do away with the hugely unpopular system whereby teams get awarded 'bonus' points when they have a bye in Super Rugby.
SANZAR CEO Greg Peters said on Thursday they listened to "feedback from the fans" and trust this makes it easier for all to track their team's log progress throughout the season.
Fan feedback indicated the additional four points given to teams on their bye weekends created confusion on the standings – particularly during the latter stages of the season in the lead-up to the Super Rugby play-offs.
"We want to make the competition as easy as possible for the fan to grasp," Peters told this website, adding: "This was one minor amendment we made for 2014."
The SANZAR boss, Peters, added that the staggered start to Super Rugby in Australia last year and again this year in South Africa has rendered any "comparative usefulness of the points for a bye round non-existent".
As was the case since the competition's last expansion, in 2011, each team will still play 16 regular season matches – eight home and eight away – and will have two byes.
Each team will play all four of the other teams in their conference twice, both home and away, and play against four of the five teams in each of the other two conferences
After the completion of the Regular Season, a three-week Super Rugby play-off series will take place involving the three conference winners and the three best-placed 'wildcards', irrespective of the conference in which they are based.
The teams ranked one and two have a bye during the first week of the play-off series, with the teams ranked three to six taking part in qualifiers to secure a place in the semifinals.
Teams one and two will host home semifinals against the two qualifier winners.
With the conference winners ensured of home advantage, at least one play-off match will be played in each country each year.
By Jan de Koning