Chiefs urge quick decision on semifinal date

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 17/07/2012
Gary Dawson
Fairfax NZ
Gary Dawson
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The Chiefs want a decision on whether they will play their Super Rugby home semifinal on a Friday or Saturday night brought forward to the next day or so.

And they favour a Friday night game at Waikato Stadium.

Sanzar - the Super Rugby controlling body - is not due to decide the semifinals dates until after this weekend's finals series qualifiers. Those qualifiers will determine which teams play the top two conference winners, the Stormers and the Chiefs, in the semifinals in Cape Town and Hamilton respectively a week later.

But Chiefs chief executive Gary Dawson said yesterday his organisation was hoping the decision could be brought forward to aid with planning and marketing, knowing no team will have to travel from South Africa to play them in the semifinals.

The Reds host the Sharks in Brisbane in one qualifier and the Crusaders host the Bulls in Christchurch in the other - both on Saturday night.

The Chiefs play the highest ranked winner of those two matches, which would be the third-seeded Australian conference-winning Reds, if the games go according to seeding.

"We're kind of hoping they will be able to make a decision in the next day or two because I think a lot will be determined on whether any team has to travel across the Indian Ocean to get to play us and I don't think any of the permutations make that possible," Dawson said.

"The only three teams that we could face in the semifinal would be the Reds if they beat the Sharks, the Crusaders if they beat the Bulls [and the Reds lose] or the Bulls if they beat the Crusaders [and the Reds lose].

"And all of those teams are going to be either in Australia or New Zealand."

That would thus favour making the Hamilton semifinal a Friday night game, which would then allow maximum time for the winners to travel to South Africa for a Cape Town final a week later if that eventuated or for a team to travel back from South Africa if the Stormers lost their semifinal and an Australasian team won the other.

The only hitch still is that the Chiefs, if they won their semifinal on a Friday night, would not know until Sunday morning if they were travelling to South Africa for the final or hosting it.

Dawson said technically Sanzar could leave the decision until the weekend, but he was hoping they would find out early to provide some certainty for everyone involved. The final decision will effectively be made by the broadcasters and rubber-stamped by Sanzar.

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