All Blacks captain Kieran Read blasts Super Rugby conference system as unfair

Sport360 staff 14:39 12/07/2018
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Kieran Read says the Super Rugby conference system needs to be replaced

All Blacks captain Kieran Read has branded the current Super Rugby conference system as unfair and says it needs to be changed before any possible expansion is discussed.

The 109-capped No8, who is not known for speaking out, said he would prefer a round-robin system where all teams play each other once, rather than splitting the competition into New Zealand, South African and Australian conferences.

“I like the idea of a full round-robin where you play everyone once, but we can’t continue with this conference system moving forward,” he said.

“They have to work something out before expansion. A round-robin or something along those lines would be fairer for everyone and result in a better product for the fans who turn up every week.”

Outgoing Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd also added his voice to criticism of the unloved conference system as his side face a play-off showdown with Chiefs.

Because conference winners are guaranteed the top three play-off spaces, the Hurricanes can finish no higher than fourth, even though they have more points than the NSW Waratahs and Lions.

It means the Hurricanes and Chiefs, who meet in the final round of the regular season on Friday, are set to finish fourth and fifth, putting them on a collision course in the quarter-finals next week.

Based purely on points, the Hurricanes would have finished second and faced a potentially easier knock-out opponent in the Jaguares, a fact not lost on Boyd.

“Potentially both the Hurricanes and the Chiefs will finish higher than the Waratahs and Lions but don’t enjoy the privilege of getting the home play-off,” said Boyd, who is heading to Northampton next season.

“So that’s an interesting feature of the competition. I think most pundits would enjoy a straight round-robin and best-man standing gets the job.”

The conference system was introduced in 2011 in a bid to reduce travel and increase the number of local derbies. As well as guarantee participation in the finals series by all the three key nations involved – New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

But critics say it is too complex and can be unfair — the Brumbies qualified second last year, even though five teams had better results.

New Zealand officials have also raised concerns about the number of Kiwi derbies, which they say rival Test matches in intensity and take a toll on players.

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