Best teams will find their way to the Super Rugby final: Gibson

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by AFP & Beth Newman

The best teams will make the Super Rugby finals no matter the system, Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson says.

Discussions around the Super Rugby format have reared their head again as finals near, with the conference system handing playoff hosting rights to some teams with fewer points than those travelling. 

Conference winners are guaranteed a home quarter-final regardless of their final points, a factor that has benefitted the Waratahs greatly.

NSW look likely to finish second on the ladder behind the Crusaders but could have fewer competition points than the Hurricanes and the Chiefs when it all finishes.

Gibson said he supported a shift to a round robin format, where all teams play each other once, but generally the best teams find a way to take the trophy regardless of the system’s inconsistencies.

“I think a lot's been made of that and I'm certainly one of those who'd join the chorus for a round robin format,” he said.

“I think when the competition was really simple to follow, to understand, to give every team the opportunity to play each other is certainly one perspective that I'd support.

“But then again, I also support SANZAAR's stance on the finals series and the conference and the reason why it was brought in, due to getting that participation from all countries.

“I think you're seeing that inevitably in finals the best teams get to the final and I'm sure you'll see that again this year.”

Kieran Read is likely to miss the June Series. Photo: Getty ImagesGibson’s comments come after All Blacks captain Kieran Read and outgoing Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd criticised the conference system.

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.

But critics say it is too complex and can be unfair -- the ACT 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.

Read, who is not known for speaking out, said this month that it was an issue that needed to be resolved before Super Rugby considers expanding beyond 15 teams.

"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."

The Waratahs take on the Brumbies on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.