Rugby matters

The problem with Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

Super Rugby Trans-Tasman is due to commence on May 14.

It looks set to be a belter, with Super Rugby teams from either side of the ditch battling for supremacy in the quick-fire competition.

There is, however, something off-putting about the way the fixtures have been designed.

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Instead of the typical round-robin tournament, all the Australian sides will play all the New Zealand sides, but will not play their fellow Aussie sides.

This means that the Super teams from the nation with the largest collective playing strength (New Zealand) will have a disproportionate advantage over the Australian teams. This is because the Australian sides will not be able to play their relatively weaker counterparts.

Essentially, the tournament is designed so that the strongest team will not necessarily win.

Richie Mo'unga of the Crusaders runs through to score a try

(Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

For example, let’s say Australia has the single strongest team across both nations, but the other four Aussie teams are far and away the weakest across the two nations.

The strong Australian team should be in the box seat to win Super Rugby Trans-Tasman, naturally, as it is the strongest team.

However, the five New Zealand teams would have a massive leg up as they have an opportunity to accrue easy wins against the weak Australian teams.

This in turn would allow them a higher likelihood of bonus points and a higher points differential, potentially lifting the New Zealand teams above the highest Australian team, despite the Australian team playing at the highest level.

This whole issue could have been bypassed using the classic round-robin format, where all ten teams play each other once. This would completely level the playing field, fairly.

This does not necessarily mean that more games should be squeezed into the season, however.

The second round of Super Rugby Australia and Aotearoa could simply have been included in the Trans-Tasman comp. This would have extra importance and drama as the Super Rugby Australia and Aotearoa campaigns reach their climax.

Jock Campbell of the Reds

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The top two teams are the only ones scheduled to progress in the Trans-Tasman comp, playing each other in the grand final.

It would be a massive disservice if the strongest team does not get first place despite playing at the highest level, which would result in them playing an away grand final.

It has to be said, I am a Queensland Reds fan, and they are the team that looks most likely to get pushed further down the ladder than deserved, so perhaps there is an element of bias in my claim of injustice.

Despite this, it still seems clear to me the second round of Super Rugby Australia and Aotearoa should have been included in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.

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