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And we’re back!!! Super Rugby may not be returning to normal but hey at least its returning in one form or another! Or in multiple forms as it were? Domestic competitions, Super Rugby Aotearoa (‘New Zealand‘) kicks off on Saturday the 13th of June and Super Rugby AU is set to commence on Friday the 3rd of July. Super Rugby AU recently confirmed that Japan’s Sunwolves will not be joining the competition and it is with a heavy heart that we farewell the Sunwolves from Super Rugby. They will be missed and I think we all hope they will be back in the future.

The team at Draft Rugby met up for over a couple of beers and a few games of pool on the weekend to figure out how we could continue to play Draft Rugby’s Fantasy Super Rugby, the game they play online in heaven, with the upcoming domestic competitions. There was no stone left unturned, no idea too ridiculous (cheers Nelson) and there were many options discussed. There was detailed discussions of possible fantasy conference systems but we ultimately decided not to go down that path. Here is what we’ve come up with and are pretty bloody excited about. You can also check out our latest podcast (S03E18 of the Draft Rugby Podcast) where we discussed these thoughts. It’s available on soundcloud or where ever you get your podcasts.

Super Rugby 2020 was going to be a 18 round competition (+ finals) made up of the 15 Super Rugby teams, with either 1 or 3 teams sitting out with a bye in most given weeks. Draft Rugby is designed to be played with 8 fantasy rugby managers who each draft and manage a unique roster of 23 players; 15 starters; comprised of 2 props, 1 hooker, 2 locks, 3 backrowers, 1 scrumhalf, 1 flyhalf, 2 centres and 3 outside backs along with one replacement (or bench) player for each of those 8 positions. Over years of crafting our game we have found this to be the most fun and effective format.

The numbers work out like this, on a given week there are 15 Super Rugby Teams with 15 starters = 225 players, or with 3 byes in a game week this can be 180 starting super rugby players . Our 8 managers have picked 15 unique starters each = 120 players, leaving 105 free starting agents assuming all teams are playing or with 3 byes in a game week, leaving 60 free starting agents. These numbers allowed managers to pick great teams and enough free agents to make trades for injuries or form players throughout the season.

Now with two separate domestic competitions of five teams each coming up, those numbers aren’t looking feasible to support 8 managers with 23 man teams. There are possible solutions, decreasing the amount of players in a fantasy mangers team, decreasing the number of fantasy managers, splitting managers into conferences etc.. & a 5 team competition on its own just isn’t quite going to handle how we play Draft Rugby.

Our solution is to go with a short form competition run over the 7 weeks that Super Rugby Aotearoa and Super Rugby AU coincide (starting Friday 03 July).

We are going to play our 8 man league, drafting unique teams of 17 players (15 starters in the same format as usual, 2 props, 1 hooker, 2 locks, 3 backrowers, 1 scrumhalf, 1 flyhalf, 2 centres and 3 outside backs PLUS only 1 reserve forward and 1 reserve back) each from the 10 Super Rugby teams (5 Kiwi and 5 Aussie). The numbers work out as follows, 10 Super Rugby teams with 15 starting players each = 150 players, 8 managers x 15 = 120 meaning there are 30 starting free agents however there will be a bye from both a Super Rugby Aotearoa and AU team each week, meaning there will only be 120 starting players each week.

Now there are a few things we really like about this. Firstly each manager will play all the other managers once in the regular season, straight up bragging rights – no head to head matchup draws in 2020. We like that managers still get to pick a team of 15 starters (it really makes you feel as if you have your own full team). The scarcity of available players combined with only being able to pick one reserve forward and one reserve back will introduce some new strategies and really promote trading. In such a short competition it will now be more difficult to hold your star players through a bye week, managers will have to look at impact bench players as it will be difficult to field a full starting 15 each week.

Super Rugby AU details are to be completely finalised soon as they wrap up the broadcast deal negotiations with Fox.

More to come but thank christ super rugby is coming back!!! Let us know your thoughts.