Super Rugby: More confusion with bonus point

Super Rugby (File)
Super Rugby (File)

Cape Town - There is less than a month to go until the start of Super Rugby 2016, and there is still no confirmation on whether or not the proposed change to the bonus point system will become a reality. 

SARU confirmed on Wednesday that they were expecting clarity "by the end of the week" while the matter only went before the SANZAR Executive Committee last week. 

The tournament has expanded to 18 teams this season to accommodate the Kings, the Jaguares (Argentina) and the Sunwolves (Japan) - and with that comes a new-look format that has raised numerous eyebrows. 

Everyone from Sharks coach Gary Gold, Crusaders boss Todd Blackadder and former Wallaby legend David Campese have raised serious concerns over the changes and, In Blackadder's case, SANZAR's communication of the changes.

With the sides split up into two groups and four conferences, it is safe to say that the draw does not give every franchise a fair crack. 

From a South African point of view, the Sharks, Kings and Lions do not play any Australian sides during the group stages, while the Stormers, Bulls and Cheetahs will not play any New Zealand sides. 

It is hard to see any rugby critics viewing that as fair, and while there are plans to mix up the draws from season to season, half of South Africa's sides will feel hard done by in the new tournament's maiden year having to play the stronger New Zealand sides. 

There is a lot to deal with for the coaches and management ahead of a season that will pose new challenges in terms of plotting a path through to the playoffs, while the long trips to either Japan/Singapore or Argentina also add a new dimension.

The new format has also not gone down so well with the rugby-loving public with many confused by the new structure while others feel like the tournament has lost its flavour. 

Now SANZAR is set to drop one more bombshell on the franchises in the form of the new bonus point system. 

In order to score a bonus point sides will no longer have to score four tries, but instead score three tries more than their opponents. 

The idea, we are told, is to promote attacking rugby so that there can still be bonus points to play for even after a side has scored four tries. 

But it might not always work out that way. 

If a side doesn't concede a try, then they will only have to score three tries of their own to secure a bonus point - and a situation like that hardly promotes attacking rugby. 

And even if the new bonus points system does have merit, at the 11th hour is hardly the time to implement it. 

Pre-season preparations are in full swing and with the drama that has accompanied the introductions of the Kings and the Sunwolves in particular, one would have thought that any such fundamental changes could have been put on hold until next season. 

And if these changes simply have to be implemented in 2016, then why has it taken SANZAR so long to make the call? 

It's all a bit of a mess, and perhaps the best thing that can happen now is for the tournament to start so that the issues that have plagued its build-up can be forgotten as soon as possible.

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