Super Rugby format unchanged in 2017
SUPER Rugby will retain its muchcriticised conference format next year while tweaking kick-off times to trial Thursday night matches and increase the number of afternoon games.
Governing body SANZAAR introduced conferences in the 2016 season to allow Super Rugby’s expansion to 18 teams, including Japan’s Sunwolves, Argentina’s Jaguares and South Africa’s Southern Kings.
But the expanded competition – which straddles 16 time zones and four continents – resulted in complaints of lopsided contests, exhausting travel schedules and a fragmented four-conference system seen as too complex.
In addition, the new teams struggled, particularly the Sunwolves, who managed just one win from 15 matches.
SANZAAR chief Andy Marinos unveiled an unchanged format for 2017 yesterday, saying, “The new season is set to be another enthralling, actionpacked one.”
He predicted the new clubs would be more competitive next year.
“It is anticipated that all three teams will be better for the experience of 2016 as we look forward to seeing their continued improvement,” he said.
“Super Rugby continues to be the toughest rugby tournament in the world.”
The season kicks off with the Melbourne Rebels playing the Auckland Blues at home on February 23, and culminates in the competition final on August 5.
The Sunwolves, who did not play any New Zealand teams last year, face a daunting start to the season against defending champions Wellington Hurricanes in Tokyo on February 25.
The Japanese will play four of their home matches in Tokyo and three in Singapore.
The first South African match is a local derby between the Central Cheetahs and Golden Lions in Bloemfontein.
There will be a short mid-season pause and some split rounds in June and July to accommodate international fixtures, including the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand.
The Australian Rugby Union said experimenting with Thursday night matches in the first two rounds of the season would “extend the Super Rugby weekend for fans”.
It said adding more afternoon kickoffs was designed to make the game more family friendly.
Each Super Rugby team plays 15 matches and has two byes in the 17-round regular season. – PARIS will commit 145 million euros (US$162 million) for the renovation of stadiums and other infrastructure to strengthen its bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, city officials said on September 19.
A meeting of Paris’ City Council next week will vote on a resolution formally giving Mayor Anne Hidalgo the power to sign guarantees required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the Games.
“It’s a formal stage but at the same time extremely important,” Jean-Francois Martins, deputy mayor of Paris responsible for sport told AFP.
Paris is in competition with Budapest, Los Angeles and Rome to stage the sporting spectacular in 2024.
After the first dossier on the “concept” of the Games on February 17, a second will be prepared for October 7 on the legal side and financing.
Some 30 million euros will be used to build a second stadium in Bercy, and 21 million euros on an aquatic centre near the Stade de France in the north of the city.
Another 25 million euros is planned for training sites, 12.5 milion euros for a swimming pool in Seine Saint-Denis and 6.5 million euros on the Pierre de Coubertin Stadium.
Paris will also guarantee 4 million euros to set aside for the future Olympic village.
The overall budget for construction work for the Games is estimated at 3 billion euros, including 1.5 billion of public money.
“We have gambled on a simple concept relying on existing sites,” said Martins.
“This is the first time in the history of the Olympics that a city has decided that residents will have their say and be able to choose some of the amenities around the Olympic venues,” added Martins.
The council will also vote on a guarantee to extend a line of the RER, an express train connecting Paris city centre and the surrounding suburbs.
The IOC will reveal the 2024 bid winner in Lima on September 13, 2017. –
Matt Proctor of the Hurricanes is tackled by Rohan Janse van Rensburg of the Lions during the Super Rugby final in Wellington, New Zealand, on August 6.