Baywide rugby format produces thrilling end to round-robin

Organising any sports tournament or championship is a mammoth task and one of the most important considerations is exactly what format the competition will be played in.

You want to ensure every team has a fair chance of reaching the top, while those who perform well are rewarded for their efforts later in the season, with home semifinals, for example.

In my opinion, the Bay of Plenty Rugby Union has hit the nail on the head.

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Going into the last week of the men's round-robin, semifinal spots were still up for grabs in Premier 1, Premier 2 and Division 1. In Premier 1 there were five teams still with a mathematical chance of making the top four, depending on the other results.

It is the type of drama and excitement you dream of as a sports reporter and, I imagine, exactly what the organisers want too.

There are 24 teams in the Baywide men's competition. At the start of the season the top 12 played each other in the Premier grade, while the bottom 12 played in Division 1.

In the second half of the season the competition splits again.

The top eight teams from Premier make up Premier 1, the bottom four join the top four from Division 1 to form Premier 2 and the bottom eight teams remain in Division 1.

Doing it this way gives the teams who are knocking on the door of Premier rugby a chance to prove they should be there early in the season - the same goes for those in Division 1 aiming for Premier 2.

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As a result, we pretty much end up with three evenly matched eight-team competitions which, this year, all went down to the wire.

In the Premier Women's competition, the top two teams, out of seven, at the end of the round-robin are rewarded with a direct passage to home semifinals. Then third plays sixth and fourth plays fifth for the other semifinals spots.

It ensures those who dominate the round-robin are rewarded appropriately, while the other sides have a fair shot at playing knockout rugby.

It has been an intriguing and entertaining season of rugby and we still have semifinals and finals to look forward to. Bring it on.

A fascinating Football World Cup comes to an end

I have been engrossed by this year's Fifa Football World Cup. Often, in the past, I've bought into the hype and excitement, only to be disappointed.

We've had upsets, controversy and goals galore on the way to finding this year's champions France, who beat Croatia 4-2 yesterday morning New Zealand time.

In this column last week I picked the final would be England against Belgium, which ended up being completely wrong, but I guess that is why we love sport. Nobody knows for sure what will happen.

An interesting storyline: Among the French goal scorers in the final was Kylian Mbappe, a 19-year-old wonder kid who plies his trade for Paris Saint-Germain in French Ligue 1.

He was born a few months after France last won the world cup in 1998.

The only other teenager to score in a Football World Cup final? Pele, who was 17 when Brazil beat Sweden 5-2 in 1958 and will forever be mentioned in debates about the greatest ever players.

If Mbappe's career continues on its current trajectory, he could well join Pele on that list.