Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Wynne Gray: Highlanders to feel absurdity of finals system

Highlanders players look on in disappointment after a Hurricanes try during their round 14 Super Rugby match. Photo / Getty
Highlanders players look on in disappointment after a Hurricanes try during their round 14 Super Rugby match. Photo / Getty

Right now, the Highlanders are rolling strongly in defence of their Super rugby crown but losing a battle with the organisers.

Their plight emphasises the absurdity of the qualifying rules and finals system.

The Highlanders are running 6th on the points table and on their way back from their offshore segment in South Africa then Argentina.

Attention airlines companies. Keep the engines humming and book enough tickets for the Highlanders next trip to South Africa.

If they remain in 6th they face the task of packing up their gear once more after this weekend and heading out to the Republic to play the Stormers.

The Stormers would have the advantage of hosting that quarterfinal even though they have fewer competition points than the Highlanders.

How so? It's a good question for tournament officials who have been seduced down the egalitarian path because of broadcasting deals and discussions about an even spread of eyeballs in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

Strange how that even-handed deal does not account for Argentina or Japan who are the other participating nations.

The prospect of the Brumbies hosting the Crusaders and the Stormers doing likewise to the Highlanders is approaching.

Both the Brumbies and Stormers have less competition points than other teams yet because of geography are winning the fight to be playoff hosts.

It is one of the reasons the Super rugby series is losing its mojo, organisers need to decide that credibility counts far more than compassion.

- NZ Herald

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