The Nationals in 2007 were played for the first time in a new super eight format, meaning each division had a cup and plate. There were rumours before hand that it wouldn’t work and that the differences in handicap in each division were too big. However, it actually all went off rather well and it has been bought to our attention that some players would like to see this format used more. People have said they would like to see it used in club tournaments as well as at Nationals
The arguments for it are that it allows the more people to play in the higher grades (as there is eight teams in both the A and B grade) and by playing in the higher grades they will gain experience and improve. Also, because after the first round of matches the grade splits into a cup and plate, a weak team in the A grade will have one tough match and then be playing against opposition that is more their own level (as the winning teams go in the cup and the losing teams go into the plate). It also allows tournaments to be more predictable, everyone knows the format they will be playing and everyone will play three games each weekend.
Guy Roberston, (UK player, three times National A grade Champion, best number 3 at Nationals in 2007 and Highlanders Chairman and Club Captain) is known to have been a fan of the super eight format at Nationals. When it was suggested that, by putting eight teams in each division, the grade below is weakened and devalued (i.e the B grade becomes weaker because the top B grade sides become A grade sides and they have no chance of winning the A grade so it is unfair on them) he said that in those circumstances the A grade Plate then effectively became the B grade and the A grade plate should be more prestigious than the B grade so this was the right thing to do. Is he right?