Super Rugby League has its issues, most of them stemming from finances, such that the Western Force had to be scrapped in order to prevent it from further draining the league’s monetary sources.
Hurricanes Coach Chris Boyd, well aware, as are many, that the way the league is configured into conferences unfairly rewards lesser sides on the basis of geography alone.
It looks as though both the Hurricanes and the Chiefs will finish higher than the Waratahs and the Lions, but will not have the opportunity to host a home playoff.
There is also the issue of the imbalance between the conferences.
Kiwis live and breathe rugby and there is no doubt that getting ahead in the New Zealand Conference is a much taller task than it represents in the Australian and Sour Africa Conferences.
Boyd favours a return to the old format that ruled in the days before the conference system was installed.
“At the end of the day I think most pundits would enjoy a straight round-robin and best-man standing gets the job [type system]. What that will end up being in time, with Sanzaar, will depend on windows and all sorts of things that are way past my pay scale,” said Boyd.
Of course, Super Rugby is not the only professional sports league where inequity plays a role in which sides play finals and which do not.
The NFL in the US is a prime example.
That competition has two conferences of 16 sides. Each conference is divided into four divisions, with each division having four clubs.
Over the course of a 16-game regular season, it is common to see a team from a weaker division qualify for playoffs, while a team from a stronger division can have a substantially better won/loss record, but fail to qualify entirely, or be forced to be a road team as a wild card qualifier.
We have not seen a perfect system, but for purity, it is hard to beat professional golf. Low score wins, period. Tied score equals playoff, where once again, low score wins.