The joy of stats
South Africa are set to be the big winners on the field as well as off of it, if proposed changes to the Super Rugby format are introduced from 2016.
Under the proposal, teams from the Republic would see their games in Australia and New Zealand halved to just two every season.
In the history of Super Rugby, stretching back to 1996, South African teams have had the worst record in inter-country* games (inter-conference games as they are known under the current format).
South Africa win 40.7 per cent of these encounters compared to 50.9 per cent for Australian teams and 58.1 per cent for New Zealand teams.
Outside of South Africa they win about one in four games - 24.6 per cent in New Zealand and 26.7 per cent in Australia.
Compare that with the record of New Zealand and Australian teams in the Republic - a win ratio of 46.4 per cent for Kiwi teams and 40.5 per cent for Aussie teams - and it wasn't hard to understand why South Africa was keen to reduce the amount of travel and inter-country games.
As the chart below shows South African teams have only twice had the best inter-country (home and away) win percentage - in 2007 and 2013 - while they have had the worst win percentage 12 times out of 18 completed seasons.
New Zealand teams on the other hand have had the best inter-country win percentage in 11 of the 18 completed Super Rugby seasons.
Of course under the current format South African teams must spend twice as long on the road to complete their inter-country games, putting them at a clear disadvantage.
All this adds up to a much easier ride for South African teams under the new proposed format.
They will play at least as many games in South Africa (possibly more) and as few as half as many in Australia and New Zealand and they won't have to play a single game against any team from the New Zealand conference - traditionally the strongest in Super Rugby - every second season.
The New Zealand teams will probably have a slightly easier ride too, playing two less intra-conference games (local derbies) and one more game against an Australian team.
* For consistency what are currently known as inter-conference games are referred to as inter-country. There were no conferences prior to 2011.
- Fairfax Media