Super 14


Super 14

Infobox sports league
current_season=2008 Super 14 season

caption=The current Super 14 logo
sport=Rugby union
founded=1996
teams=14
country=AUS
NZL
RSA
champion=flagicon|NZL Crusaders
The Super 14 is the largest rugby union football club championship in the southern hemisphere, consisting of four state teams from Australia (Queensland/Reds, New South Wales/Waratahs, ACT/Brumbies, and Western Australia/Force), five New Zealand franchises, each of which is comprised by a number of provinces (the resulting teams are Auckland/Blues, Waikato/Chiefs, Wellington/Hurricanes, Canterbury/Crusaders, and Otago/Highlanders), and five teams from South Africa (Free State/Cheetahs, Western Cape/Stormers, Kwazulu Natal/Sharks, Gauteng/Lions, Northern Gauteng/Bulls). The fourteen sides all play against one another once in the regular season, with no divisional or pool system. With each team granted one bye week, this phase of the competition runs for fourteen weeks.

The teams are ranked according to the number of competition points they accrue throughout the season. Competition points are awarded as follows:- 4 for winning a match- 2 for drawing a match

Additional Bonus Points are awarded as follows:- 1 Bonus Point for scoring four or more tries in a match- 1 Bonus Point for losing by seven or fewer points

The teams in the top four places on the competition ladder after the regular season enter the two-week knockout phase of the tournament. Two semi-finals (in which the top-ranked team hosts the fourth, and second-ranked hosts the third) are contested to decide the two finalists, which is played at the highest ranked winners' home ground, as opposed to a pre-selected neutral venue.

The current competition was inaugurated in 1996, and from the first season through to 2005, the competition was known as Super 12; the name change came about following the expansion for the 2006 season. The term Super Rugby is sometimes used when talking about the Super 14 and Super 12 collectively. Matches are now broadcast in 41 countries.cite web | title=Super 14 to be broadcast into 41 countries | work=globalsuper14.com | url=http://www.globalsuper14.com/news/show_article.asp?id=389&cat=18 | accessdaymonth=17 July |accessyear=2006]

Competition format and sponsorship

Format

The Super 14 is a round-robin competition where each team plays with every other team once; a team has six or seven home games, and six or seven away games each. There are 91 regular season games in total.cite web| url=http://www.super14.com/fixtures/2007fixturesLGMT.asp |publisher=super14.com |title=2007 Super 14 Fixtures |accessdate=2007-04-16] Games are held over 14 weekends with each team receiving one bye. The Super 14 uses the Rugby union bonus points system. The top four teams at the end of the round-robin phase then play semifinals - the first placed team hosts the fourth placed team, and the second placed team hosts the third placed team.cite web| url=http://www.planetrugby.com/Story/0,18259,9991_1745267,00.html |title=Super 12: The History |publisher=planetrugby.com |accessdate=2007-04-16 |date=2001-05-24] The two winners then play the final at the home ground of the top surviving seed.

ANZAR

SANZAR is a joint union between the South African, New Zealand and Australian rugby Unions, that oversees the Super 14 and Tri Nations. There have always been rumours that South Africa may one day leave the Super 14 and Tri Nations to join the Six Nations in the Northern Hemisphere because South Africa's timezone would suit the move.cite web | title=Sanzar relations 'fine' claims NZRU boss | work=nzherald.co.nz | url=http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=4&objectid=10401568 | accessdaymonth=18 September |accessyear=2006] The Tri Nations takes place after the Super 14 season, between South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.

Logo

During the last season of the Super 12, Coast Design, Sydney was commissioned to design a new logo for the Super 14.Cite web| url=http://www.coastdesign.com.au/pages/s14.htm
title=Super 14 |accessdate=2007-01-28 |publisher=coastdesign.com.au
] The Super 14 logo breaks away from the traditional shield formats, common to many sporting codes, and uses Roman numerals (XIV) which is unique for sport in the region.cite news| url=http://www.rugbyheaven.smh.com.au/articles/2005/08/22/1124562783752.html |title=SANZAR launches Super 14 logo |publisher=smh.com.au |date=2005-08-22 |accessdate=2007-01-28] The game's dynamism and speed are suggested by the orbiting football which has three distinct stitches, a subtle reference to the three countries of the tournament.

Before the expansion to the Super 14, the Super 12 used a logo in the shape of a shield, which had the sponsors name at the top, and then the words "Rugby" and "Super 12". The lower half of the logo used three different coloured stripes, green, black and gold, the respective colours of the national teams of South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

Naming rights

The naming rights for the competition are different in the three countries:
* In New Zealand, sporting goods retailer Rebel Sport has naming rights and the competition is referred to as the Rebel Sport Super 14. Previously Ubix and then Telecom New Zealand (TNZ).
* In Australia, the Investec Bank has naming rights and the competition is referred to as the Investec Super 14. Previously the "Tooheys New Super 14", after the Tooheys New brand of the Tooheys brewery. [cite web|url=http://westernforce.com.au/wa/wa.rugby/page/49828|title=Investec New Naming Rights Partner Of Rugby's Super 14|date=2006-10-25|author=ARU]
* In South Africa, telecommunications company Vodacom has naming rights and the competition is referred to as the Vodacom Super 14.

History

uper 6 & Super 10

Before 1996, regular competitive rugby union had taken shape in a number of southern hemisphere competitions, the earliest of which was the South Pacific Championship, which was launched in 1986. The original competition consisted of three teams from New Zealand; Auckland, Canterbury, Wellington along with two Australian teams; Queensland and New South Wales, and Fiji. The competition was relaunched as the Super Six in 1992.

In 1993, the Super 10 replaced the South Pacific Championship and Super Six tournaments. With South Africa being readmitted into international sport following the dismantling of apartheid, there was an opportunity to launch an expanded competition which would also feature South Africa's top provincial teams. The inaugural competition featured the following teams: Waikato, Auckland, Otago and North Harbour (New Zealand); Natal Sharks, Transvaal and Northern Transvaal (South Africa); Queensland and New South Wales (Australia), Western Samoa (Pacific Nations representative). The Super 10 was won by Transvaal (South Africa) in 1993, and by Queensland (Australia) in 1994 and 1995.

uper 12

The official declaration of professionalism in rugby union in August 1995 led to a restructuring of the Super 10 competition.Following the success of the 1995 World Cup Australia, New Zealand and South Africa rugby boards formed SANZAR (South African, New Zealand and Australian Rugby) to administer an annual 12-team provincial competition pitting regional teams of the then three strongest rugby nations against each other. In addition it was decided to hold an annual Tri-Nations Test Series between the three countries. A significant reason for the development of the Super 12 was the threat to rugby union from rival football code rugby league; especially in Australia and New Zealand where league had a significant following. When the new rugby league competition the Super League was formed, it threatened to entice the best rugby union players to play rugby league because of significantly higher salaries being offered to its players. Another strong reason was the introduction, in Australia especially, of pay (or subscription) television. A key part of the business model for the Foxtel pay TV network in Australia was to attract subscribers by offering an exclusive product (such as rugby union) which could not be seen on free-to-air broadcast television. By setting up the Super 12, the Unions had a product that was in demand from viewers, enabling them to sell a 10 year contract for exclusive television rights to News Corp for US$ 555 million, giving them both coverage and financial support to kickstart the new competition.cite web | title=More for players in new SANZAR deal | work=worldcupweb.com | url=http://www.worldcupweb.com/WCrugby/item.asp?NewsID=845 | accessdaymonth=17 July |accessyear=2006]

With significant sponsorship, and rugby turning a professional sport in 1995, the Super 12 competition successfully kicked off in 1996 with five domestic New Zealand, four domestic South African and three domestic Australian teams competing. New Zealand's dominance of the competition began in the first year when the Auckland Blues won the inaugural competition defeating South African side the Natal Sharks 45 - 21 in a home final. The Blues would repeat the success of 1996 beating Australian side the ACT Brumbies 23 - 7 in the 1997 final.

Auckland then reached their third successive final in 1998 but went down to fellow countrymen the Canterbury Crusaders 13 - 20. This would mark the beginning of the Crusaders' three-year dominance as they went on to win the 1999 and 2000 finals over the Otago Highlanders and ACT Brumbies respectively. The 2001 season was the first in which no New Zealand franchise reached the final, being contested between the ACT Brumbies and Natal Sharks with the Brumbies convincing winners, with a 36 - 6 scoreline.

The Crusaders won their 4th final in 2002 and missed out on their 5th in 2003 with a four-point loss to fellow countrymen the Blues. In 2004 the Brumbies took revenge on their 2000 final loss to the Crusaders defeating them 47 - 38 in front of a home crowd. The Crusaders would bounce back to win the 2005 final 35 - 25 against the Australian side the New South Wales Waratahs who reached their first ever final. This was the last year of the 12 team format.

From the early 2000s Australia had started to push for the inclusion of a fourth Australian team, and South Africa for another team from its country. There was also speculation of including a team from the South Pacific Island nations, such as Fiji; or a combined Pacific Islanders team from Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. Argentina was also pushing for inclusion in the Super 12.

uper 14

In September 2004, SANZAR began negotiations for a new television deal to take effect in 2006. That December, SANZAR announced that a new TV deal had been signed, with News Corporation winning the rights for the UK, Australia and New Zealand and Supersport winning rights for South Africa. The contract is worth USD 323 million over five years, which is a 16% annual increase compared to the previous deal. It covers international fixtures as well as the Super 14. SANZAR remained free to negotiate separate deals for other markets, such as France, Japan and the Americas.

The TriNations is the "cash cow" for the SANZAR partners as it provides nearly 60 per cent of the money from News Ltd. The Super 14 made up about 30 per cent of the deal.

Under the new deal, Australia and South Africa each got one extra team in the competition, and a third round of fixtures was added to the Tri Nations Series. The proposal also included the possibility of splitting the updated Super 14 into two seven-team divisions, but it was decided to keep the competition in its traditional single-table format. However, Argentina and the Pacific Islands remain shut out of the competition under this proposal.

It was confirmed in 2005 that the new Australian team in the competition would be based in Perth and was named the Western Force. The addition of the new South African team led to considerable controversy, including government involvement. Finally, the five teams for 2006 were confirmed to be the country's existing four teams, plus the Central Cheetahs, which draws its players from the Free State and Northern Cape Provinces.

The two new teams didn't perform all that well, the South African franchise the Cheetahs did the best of the two teams finishing 10th on the ladder notching up 5 season wins. The Australian franchise the Western Force only managed one victory and ended winning the wooden spoon as last placed 14th. The highlight for the Force was a 23-all draw against eventual champions the Crusaders, who defeated first-time finalists the Wellington Hurricanes 19 - 12.

For the 2007 season, 22 All Blacks missed the competition's first seven rounds as part of an All Black "conditioning programme".cite news| title=All Blacks pulled out of the Super 14 |url=http://www.planet-rugby.com/Story/0,18259,3562_1692051,00.html |publisher=planet-rugby.com |date=2006-08-20 |accessdate=2007-01-24] The conditioning programme was a part of the All Blacks' 2007 Rugby World Cup preparations, and every New Zealand franchise were without players for the first seven rounds.cite news| title=Henry reveals his 'World Cup team'|url=http://www.planet-rugby.com/Story/0,18259,3562_1692085,00.html |publisher=planet-rugby.com |date=2006-09-11 |accessdate=2007-01-24] cite news| last=Leggat| first=David| |title=Getting the balance in Super 14|url=http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/story.cfm?c_id=4&ObjectID=10402597 |publisher=nzherald.co.nz |date=2006-09-22 |accessdate=2006-09-24] At the end of the regular season, for the first time since 1998, no Australian franchise had made the semi-finals. Although the Brumbies were strong and the Western Force experienced vast improvement it was a poor season for the Queensland Reds and Waratahs who finished last and second last respectively. Also, it was known before the final that the competition would be won for the first time ever by a South African team, as the Sharks and Bulls, who finished 1-2 on the season ladder, both won their respective semifinals. The final, held in Durban, saw the visiting Bulls win 20-19.

Future of the Super 14

Early reports suggested that South Africa may withdraw from the Super 14 post-2010. It has been speculated that South Africa may want to align themselves with European nations instead, because of the better time zone and travel issues. Some South African officials feel they are disadvantaged because of the long away legs of the tournament. [cite news | title=Report: SA could bow out of Super 14 | url=http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=287382&area=/breaking_news/breaking_news__sport/ | work= Sapa-AFP | publisher=Mail&Guardian | date=2006-10-21 | accessdate=2006-10-22]

In a later development, South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins expressed his desire for two Argentina teams be included into the competition, expanding it to a "Super 16". [cite news| title=Could Tri Nations become four?|url=http://www.rugbyheaven.smh.com.au/articles/2007/02/26/1172338540181.html | publisher=Rugby Heaven | date=2007-02-26 | accessdate=2007-05-03] . It was hoped this could happen as part of Argentina's entry into the Tri Nations. However it was agreed at the end of 2007 that Argentina will not join the Tri Nations until 2012 at the earliest, with the key to admission being Argentina's agreement to establish a professional domestic rugby structure. [cite press release|url=http://www.irb.com/newsmedia/mediazone/pressrelease/newsid=2021332.html#rugby+lays+foundations+continued+growth |title=Rugby lays foundations for continued growth |publisher=International Rugby Board |date=2007-11-30 |accessdate=2007-12-03 The release does not mention the Tri Nations by name, but states that by 2012, Argentina will be "fully integrated into the Southern [Hemisphere] top-flight Rugby playing structure", an obvious reference to the Tri Nations.]

Mid way through the 2008 Super 14 Series the NZRU started to desire a more urgent, more radical change to the Super 14 tournament. This change in view came about after the news that many key players would be looking to move North after their contracts had expired, to play in European competitions where more money could be earned. Broadcast figures for the Super 14 series were also down as much as 20%.

A recent idea by the NZRU include the introduction of a US-style conference system, with new franchises in the Pacific islands, Japan and Argentina to be introduced for the 2010 season. Each team would play teams within their conference twice and outside their conference just once.

There are a number of problems with expanding the Super 14. Travel expenses are already enormous given the distances between venues. A NZRU report recently showed that players were leaving for the Northern Hemisphere because on average they were away from home for two nights a year compared with six months away from home in the Southern Hemisphere. Player welfare is also a concern with expanding the Super 14 as expansion would mean more matches for players that are already playing too many matches.

Teams

Total wins

Wins by Country

Trophies

The Super 14 trophy is sterling silver and has the competition logo on a globe which sits atop of a four-sided twisted spiral; it stands at 49 centimetres high and weighs 2.7 kilogram.cite web| url=http://www.jenshansen.com/news/super14.aspx |title=Media Release |publisher=jenshansen.com |date=2006-02-08 |accessdate=2007-01-28] Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith in Nelson, New Zealand hand made the trophy which took over two months to make; the same workshop made the gold ring in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

On February 7, a new Super 14 trophy was unveiled in Wellington, New Zealand for the expanded competition. In the first Super 14 final, played at Jade Stadium, in Christchurch, on May 27, 2006, the Crusaders beat the Hurricanes 19-12.

There are several other trophies contested during the competition; the Charles Anderson VC Memorial Cup between the Brumbies and Stormers, the Bob Templeton Cup between the Reds and Waratahs, and the Gordon Hunter Memorial Trophy between the Blues and Highlanders.

uper rugby records

Team records

*Highest score: 96 – Crusaders v Waratahs (19), 2002
*Lowest score: 0 - Hurricanes v Reds (11), 1999; Bulls v Brumbies (15), 1999; Bulls v Sharks (29), 1999; Cats v Brumbies (64), 2000; Bulls v Highlanders (23), 2005; Brumbies v Blues (17), 2006; Reds v Brumbies (36), 2007; Force v Crusaders (53), 2007; Stormers v Crusaders (22); 2008
*Lowest combined score: Brumbies vs Reds (6-3) 2007
*Highest winning margin: 89 – Bulls v Reds (92-3), 2007
*Highest score away: 60 – Blues v Hurricanes (7), 2002
*Most consecutive wins: 15 – Crusaders, 2002/03
*Most consecutive losses: 11 – Bulls, 2002
*Most tries in a match: 14 – Crusaders v Waratahs, 2002
*Most tries in a season: 71 – Crusaders, 2005
*Fewest tries in a season: 15 – Blues, 1999, 2000; Reds, 2007
*Most wins in a season: 12 – Crusaders, 2008 regular season
*Fewest wins in a season: 0 – Bulls, 2002 regular season
*Most wins in a row at home: 21 – Blues 1996-1998; Crusaders 2004-2006

Individual records

Match

*Points: 50 – Gavin Lawless, Sharks
*Tries: 4, Joe Roff (Brumbies), Gavin Lawless & Stefan Terblanche (Sharks), Joeli Vidiri, Doug Howlett & Mils Muliaina (Blues), Caleb Ralph (Crusaders)
*Conversions: 13 – Andrew Mehrtens, Crusaders
*Penalties: 8 – Jannie Kruger, Derick Hougaard, Bulls

Career

*Points: 990 – Andrew Mehrtens, Crusaders
*Tries: 59 Doug Howlett, Blues
*Conversions: 148 – Matt Burke, Waratahs
*Penalties: 195 – Andrew Mehrtens, Crusaders
*Quickest Try: 16 Seconds – Keegan Daniel, Sharks

eason

*Points: 221 – Daniel Carter, Crusaders, 2006
*Tries: 15 - Joe Roff, Brumbies, 1997; Rico Gear, Crusaders, 2005
*Conversions: 39 – Stirling Mortlock, Brumbies, 2000
*Penalties: 43 – Andrew Mehrtens, Crusaders, 1999

Domestic competitions

Each respective country competing in the Super 14 has a number of their own domestic leagues, which feed into Super franchises. South Africa actually used their Currie Cup teams as opposed to creating new franchises during the earlier years of the Super 12. However, the Currie Cup is now the third tier of rugby in South Africa, below Test and Super, it is played after the Super 14 season, and all clubs are aligned to a franchise, though it is mainly the big five, the Blue Bulls, Golden Lions, Natal Sharks, Free State Cheetahs and Western Province which contribute the most to the Super 14 sides.

In New Zealand, the Air New Zealand Cup is the most prominent domestic tournament below the Super 14, in which all the respective Unions are also aligned with Super franchises.

In Australia, a new national club competition called the Mazda Australian Rugby Championship was launched in 2007. It was intended to bridge the gap between Super 14 and club rugby, and was similar to the Currie Cup and Air New Zealand Cup. It consisted of eight teams: Sydney Fleet, Central Coast Rays, Western Sydney Rams (from New South Wales), Ballymore Tornadoes, East Coast Aces (from Queensland), Perth Spirit (from Western Australia), Melbourne Rebels (from Victoria) and the Canberra Vikings (from ACT).cite web | title=Mazda Australian Rugby Championship | url=http://www.rugby.com.au/fixtures_results/australian_rugby_championship/overview,50381.html | publisher=Australian Rugby Union]

The competition began on 10 August, played in a round-robin format, with the Grand Final played on 14 October. Western Sydney were the minor premiers (i.e., finished atop the league table before the playoffs), but lost in the semifinals. Central Coast won the inaugural and ultimately only Grand Final. The ARU scrapped the competition after its inaugural season, citing larger-than-expected financial losses of A$4.7 million. [cite web | work=FoxSports | title=ARC scrapped after $4.7m loss |url=http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,22942541-23217,00.html| date= 18 December 2007 |accessdate=18 December | accessyear=2007]

Media

The Super 14 is broadcast on Supersport in South Africa, SKY Network Television in New Zealand, and on FOX Sports in Australia. The Super 14 is simulcast terrestrially on M-Net in South Africa. In 2004, the Seven Network said it had no interest in the then Super 12 competition because of poor ratings.cite web | title=Ten lands World Cup rights | work=The Sydney Morning Herald | url=http://www.rugbyheaven.smh.com.au/articles/2006/07/22/1153166635545.html | accessdaymonth=18 September |accessyear=2006] There is also a problem with the different time zones between the three nations, which can make it difficult for fans to watch games when their team is playing away. The Super 14 is now broadcast in over 40 countries.

The Super 14 competition is featured in the Electronic Arts (EA) Rugby series. See Rugby 06,Rugby 08.

ee also

* Super 14 franchise areas
* List of Super 14 stadiums
* List of Super Rugby records
* Super 14 trophy
* Super 12 champions
* Super 14 champions
* South Pacific Championship
* Super 10

* Experimental law variations

* Top 14 - France
* Top League - Japan

Notes and references

Bibliography

*
*
*

External links

* [http://www.super14.com Super 14 website - latest news, teams etc]
* [http://www.foxsports.com.au/rugby/super14 FOX Sports Australia Super 14 section]
* [http://www.itsrugby.co.uk/result-super14-2007.html Super 14 from itsrugby.co.uk]
* [http://www.superbru.com Super 14 Prediction Game]
* [http://www.sportingo.com/super-14/6,1925 Super 14 Fans New Articles]
* [http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,12334_3108595,00.html Deans calls expansion]
* [http://www.mediazone.com/channel/rugby/jsp/2006/super14_2008.jsp?weekNum=4 Super 14 Matches]
* [http://www.the-sports.org/rugby-super-14-presentation-medal-winners-s11-c0-b0-g14-t1991.html All time statistics with link to all results]


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