Chiefs coach Dave Rennie has tackled the elephant in the room and suggested Super Rugby’s controversial finals format needs tweaking.
Rennie stopped short of declaring the current set-up unfair on New Zealand teams – who are dominating the 2016 competition – but made it clear South African sides were getting a better deal.
“There’s going to be four quarter-finals and two of them are going to be in Africa,” Rennie said after his table-topping Chiefs missed their chance to take command of the New Zealand conference with a 45-25 loss to the NSW Waratahs in Sydney.
“Considering they’ve got six teams and half those games are going to be there … I guess they put a lot of money into it, so that’s the way it is.
“In the end, we’ve known about the comp – it is what it is. It means if you don’t win your conference, you’re travelling.”
In the first year of the expanded competition, the 18 teams are grouped geographically with two regional groups, each consisting of two conferences.
The Australasian Group has five teams in the Australian Conference and five teams in the New Zealand Conference.
The South African Group has six South African teams, one Argentinean team and one Japanese team split into a four-team Africa 1 Conference and a four-team Africa 2 Conference.
The top team in each of the four conferences will automatically qualify to the quarter-finals, with the next three ranked teams in the Australasian Group and next best team in the South African group qualifying for the quarter-finals as wildcards.
As it stands, three New Zealand teams will claim wildcard spots ahead of SANZAAR’s review of the format.
“It’s difficult this many teams in,” Rennis said.
“I even look at the Jaguares (from Argentina) and obviously they’ve really battled but, gee, they’ve had some travel.
“Their pool games are predominantly in Africa. They had a three-week tour of New Zealand and went to Japan and then went home.
“We’ve done a bit of travel too but that’s what happens when you get this many teams involved.”
Rennie said he’d prefer a 16-team competition where everyone played each other once before a four or six-team finals series.
“That’s a fairer system, isn’t it?” he said.
“There’s been a bit of talk about the fact that maybe the Stormers, Bulls – they play 15 round robin games and they don’t have to play a Kiwi side.
“That’s not a bad draw is it?”