It shows just how bad Super Rugby had become with 18 teams that there has been a red carpet welcome for the previous format that was never particularly loved.

Super Rugby has reverted to a 15-team, three-conference format as it was between 2011 and 2015. That format got the boot in 2016 when the competition expanded to 18 teams, but it probably would have been given the boot regardless.

No one much liked it, least of all New Zealand's players who felt that having to play two full rounds of local derbies was too demanding.

It's kind of silly to pretend otherwise - the New Zealand Conference is the toughest. It is the most intense. The five teams in it hammer the snot out of each other in games that aren't so far removed from tests.


Doing it eight times in the season is tough and it was that desire to reduce the local content that was a significant driver leading to change in 2016.

There were other issues with the previous format, too. It was never quite right that it wasn't a full round-robin and the curious nature of playing four of the five teams in each of the other two conferences was deemed odd.

A kind of awkward fit to make it all work and it never sat right.

Yet here we are in September 2017 being asked to welcome back this old world as if it is inspired and brilliant when back in its heyday it was maligned and mocked.

In fact, this new old world is even more flawed in that there is an Argentinian team in the South African Conference and a Japanese outfit in the Australian outfit.

So now not only are there more high-impact local derbies, there is more long-haul travel.
There will be New Zealand teams that have to play a game in Africa and then fly to Argentina and then also play in Japan.

The tradeoff is the guarantee of eight home games and while the players aren't jumping up and down at the prospect of smacking heads in pseudo All Blacks trials, the money men are loving it.

And that's kind of all that matters. Having happy bean counters suddenly means Super Rugby is fixed.

It's not, though. The new draw and format is an improvement on what we had in 2016 and 2017. It is better for sure.

It makes more sense, but not total sense. The New Zealand teams have at least won some kind of concession that common sense has prevailed with the five wildcard places.

The three conference winners will automatically qualify for the playoffs but in 2018, unlike the last two years, the five wildcard places will go to the five teams with the most points.

But while it is improved, it is not fixed.

How can it be - because the very format that has been adopted is one that has previously been tried and rejected.

What we have is the best of a number of bad options that the executive types will say has fixed everything simply because it works better for them.