Sharks director of rugby Gary Gold has slammed the format of the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.
The Sharks have been drawn in the second South African conference, ‘Africa Two’. This means they will play all the New Zealand sides and none of the Australian sides in the conference stage – one of the bizarre features of the new Super Rugby format.
Speaking to Rugby365.com, Gold expressed his concerns that the new format does not provide every side with a fair chance.
‘The only thing I will say about it is that when you play sports at the highest level, all you really want is a level playing field and this competition does not provide you with that,’ said Gold. ‘It is a little bit absurd, but in saying that it is what it is and there are some exciting things.’
The Durban-based side also faces a tough travelling schedule in the middle of the season. They fly to New Zealand for a three-match tour against the Blues, Highlanders and Chiefs and then fly back to Durban to face the Hurricanes. Then it's on to Argentina to face the Jaguars, and back to Durban for their return fixture against the Kings – without a break in between.
‘I don't think you understand the toll it has on the bodies when you fly east to west, recover from jetlag, play a game and then fly east to west again for another game,’ Gold commented. ‘We have to plan for that and we are going to plan for that. It's a big challenge.’
The Sharks have been drawn in a conference with the Lions, Kings and the Jaguars from Argentina. Their Super Rugby campaign kicks off on 27 February against the Kings in Port Elizabeth.
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