Love it or loathe it, them’s the rules ...

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images
The Highlanders could make the quarterfinals with just four wins out of 14 games. Adrian Seconi takes a look at the pros and cons of the playoff structure.

Full credit

•Won’t hear a bad word about the playoff structure. Nothing wrong with it, particularly if it means the Highlanders are still in the running after the weekend. Who cares if they only manage four or five wins and finish eighth out of 12 teams? Peter Dunne kept getting a seat in the House despite United Future being about as popular as a hair in your soup.

•An extended playoff structure keeps more fans engaged and that has to be good for rugby. Nothing worse than a series of dead rubbers at the end of a long season when your team is the Warriors (sorry, wrong code and a very cheap shot).

•In a season affected by Covid, a more accommodating playoff series helps mitigate against bad luck.

Some learnings

•Can we just call it what is really is — more product for the broadcaster. It does not matter if the round robin is lopsided and uneven, or the playoff structure renders most of the 15 previous weeks meaningless. What matters is it is on TV and your subscription is up to date.

•Rewards mediocrity. The Highlanders have had a poor season, but could limp into the playoffs with a starter’s chance of upsetting the Blues — who have lost fewer games than the Highlanders have won — in the quarterfinal.

•Only a rugby administrator could dream up a scenario where the Reds play the Rebels twice in one conference and the Highlanders play the Crusaders home and away in the other and somehow deem it a fair draw. How about everyone plays everyone else and the top four teams contest the title?

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